The Indianapolis Colts severed ties with quarterback Peyton Manning today, making him the most coveted free agent in recent memory. The Colts decision to release Manning saves the team from paying him a $28 million roster bonus and allows the team to rebuild with the first pick in April’s NFL Draft, which they will presumably use on either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.
But enough about them, is Peyton Manning going to end up with the San Francisco 49ers?
Vegas oddsmakers aren’t so sure: they put the Cardinals at the top of the list with a 17 percent chance of landing Manning, while the 49ers are a long shot at just three percent. The Kevin Kolb experiment has been disappointing in Arizona, but Sports Illustrated reporter and noted NFL insider Peter King noted on Twitter that Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill is not one to pay money for nothing; if Arizona were to sign Manning, they would be paying Kolb a starting QB salary to sit on the bench.
Even if Vegas doesn’t like the 49ers chances, Yahoo! reporter Michael Silver ranks them just behind the Houston Texans in the Manning sweepstakes. So if Vegas thinks the Niners are a longshot, and Silver thinks they’re a favorite, who to believe? If you think the truth is somewhere in the middle, go with Bill Barnwell of Grantland.com’s rankings, as he has them squarely in the middle of a pack of 10 teams, with the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins as number one and number two, respectively.
The argument for the 49ers signing Manning goes something like this: with arguably the best defense in the NFL, a top-flight running game, and fantastic special teams, how could signing a future Hall of Fame QB not put them over the top and into the Super Bowl?
The argument against the 49ers signing him? Who says they even need him! With the less talented and playoff-tested Alex Smith at the helm, the 49ers were several unfortunate fumbles and an overtime drive away from going to the Super Bowl. Who’s to say Manning would have gotten them any close? Plus, the guy is 36, just sat out an entire season, and nobody is really sure how healthy he is, despite leaked workout videos.
What say you, Niner fans? Would you rather have another year with Alex Smith or roll the dice on Manning? Send your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post the best ones.