NFL Analysis: Colts Can't Give Up on Peyton Manning Just Yet

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Does anyone know what the Indianapolis Colts are thinking? For that matter, can anyone figure out what’s going through Jim Irsay’s head? In my case, I have no clue, and I believe any final outcome outside of holding on to Peyton Manning is a mistake.

Assuming Manning is healthy, the Colts would be insane to let him walk and draft Andrew Luck. I know there are still questions about Manning’s health/neck, but let’s assume Manning is correct and everything is/will be fine. Letting one of the greatest QBs of all time leave, especially without compensation, is asinine.

Do the Colts need more help than just at QB? Sure. But how much help exactly? If you look at the 2010 versus 2011 roster, there aren’t that many differences. And in fact, they upgraded in some areas. The biggest difference from the two teams was the loss of Manning. That alone took a 10-6 team to 2-14. This Colts team is still a Manning return and few small upgrades from contending again. So why would you throw in the towel and start a premature rebuilding plan and base it all on an uncertainty?

What is the uncertainty? None other than Andrew Luck. The comparisons have tied him to Manning himself, but if anything, we should have learned by now that no draft pick is a guarantee, especially quarterbacks. Do we need to be reminded of Tim Couch, David Carr, JaMarcus Russell – all No. 1 picks? What about Heath Shuler, Rick Mirer, David Kilngler, Akili Smith, Andre Ware or even the best example, Ryan Leaf? The list can actually go on much longer, but the point is made: no draft pick, most of all QBs, are ever a certainty.

What should Indy do? It’s simple. They should trade the pick. With how much teams are fawning over Luck for this year’s draft, Indy could easily get a king’s ransom on draft day. You’re looking at the Colts getting two first rounders and two seconds… at the least. There are plenty of teams in this draft that are enamored with Luck and desperate for a franchise QB: Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and then others who’d oust their current QB for Luck, such as the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Bucs, etc.

The Colts should hold on to Manning who has at least three years of elite play left (again, assuming the neck is fine – which, by the way, we still have plenty of time to find out) and retool this team to get back in the hunt. They can still draft Manning’s replacement later in the draft while shoring up their areas of need. At the very least, they should trade Manning to some team like the Redskins who would be willing to eat that contract and get some value… but that’s still a mistake in the end. If the Colts let Manning walk, draft Luck and find out he’s a bust, they just set their franchise back for at least five years.

In addition to covering the NFL, MLB, NBA, and College Football for RotoExperts, Jake Ciely (a.k.a "All In Kid") is also a poker fiend and a Maharishi in the world of sports wagering. Jake was a finalist for the FSWA's 2010 Newcomer of the Year award. You may email Jake @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JakeAllinCiely