March 7, 2011
Only hours after Aaron Rodgers and the Packers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy, the NFL offseason kicked into full swing. Iconic quarterback Peyton Manning's contract with the Indianapolis Colts expired and he became a free agent. The safe bet was on Manning returning to the team that drafted him back in 1998 over the sensational Ryan Leaf. However, Manning is free to go to any team he likes. It was not long ago that Lebron James famously took his talents elsewhere. Rumors have swirled that Manning, who turns 35 in March, might cash in and sign with the team that offers him the most money, or he could take less money to go to a championship contender. “The Patriots are a real attractive opportunity,” Manning said last week, stirring up rumors.
“Hopefully he'll exit gracefully,” Colts QB Curtis Painter said, “after watching the Brett Favre saga, it's clear now that the Packers were right to go with Rodgers. I just hope the front-office sees that the key to success is in youth, not 35 year olds.” All the speculation ended today as Manning applied the franchise tag to Indianapolis. “When you use the franchise tag,” Manning said, “you have to be sure you've picked the right place.” While Manning has made up his mind, free agent Nnamdi Asomugha isn't so sure. “I'm hesitant to call Indianapolis a 'franchise,'” Asomugha said. Quarterback Curtis Painter will once again go to the bench, but fans have to wonder how long it is until they see their quarterback of the future take over the reins.