What Colts fans have been dreading since talks began between the organization and their star quarterback has come to pass: Peyton Manning will no longer be a Colt.
The Colts will release Manning, as early as Wednesday afternoon, ending a 14-year run for Manning in Indianapolis.
The NFL normally releases its waiver wire list each weekday at around 4 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. Arizona time, and Manning’s name should be on it today. That means Manning could quickly sign with whatever team he so desires, especially with free agency starting on Tuesday.
You would think Manning would like to be in place before then, so he can have a say on who his new team goes after in free agency and in April’s NFL Draft.
The Cardinals are among a tight group of teams who would most likely pursue Manning once the time is right.
The others are the Dolphins, Redskins, Jets and Chiefs.
Feel free to toss any other team in the mix that doesn’t have a franchise type quarterback on their roster.
Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett took to Twitter and the NFL Network to express his feelings about having Manning as his quarterback, and didn’t mince words when saying how great it would be to have a future Hall of Famer as his teammate, considering he played with one before in Kurt Warner.
“I don’t have anything against our quarterback [Kevin Kolb] we have now,” Dockett told the NFL Network. “I feel confident in him. Who wouldn’t want to play with Peyton Manning?”
The question is: why would Manning want to play in Arizona?
Manning has tasted the sweetest candy an NFL player could taste: a Super Bowl championship, and you would have to believe he wants to get back to the promised land at least one more time before he hangs up his cleats.
Last season, Cardinals fans got a glimpse of what the future can bring, with their strong 7-2 finish to the year.
The defense, much maligned in the first half of the season, got it together and looked ferocious to run out the season.
This defense, if healthy and playing like they know they can, could be the best defense Manning has ever played alongside, should he decide to come here.
Another major selling point for Manning would be the man wearing the No. 11 jersey: Larry Fitzgerald.
Manning has had great receivers in his time in Indianapolis [i.e. Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne], but those guys don’t hold a candle to Fitzgerald, and what he can do on the football field.
The fun factor of throwing to Fitzgerald alone should put Arizona over the top for Manning.
Lastly, Manning would want to go to a team with stability and a sense of direction, which it seems like the Cardinals qualify for in both categories.
Team president Michael Bidwill, general manager Rod Graves and head coach Ken Whisenhunt seem to have this team pointed skywards, which has to put them on Manning’s radar.
Not to mention the fact that the NFC West is a winnable division, regardless of the 49ers success last season (Arizona was one of four teams to beat San Francisco last season).
Time will only tell which direction Manning decides to head in.
The Cardinals have to at least line up at the display case to take a look at the No. 18 car and kick the tires a bit.