The Indianapolis Colts released Peyton Manning this week, marking the end of a 14 season career for the Colts. He was the face of the franchise who won the first Super Bowl for the franchise since 1970. A recent ESPN article breaks down the value Peyton brought to the Colts. The value of their franchise increased approximately 474 percent after Manning joined the team. The Colts made the move because of the doubt about Manning’s future health, and they will draft Andrew Luck first overall in April’s draft.
This was not an easy move for the franchise. They have to be careful about maintaining good relations with their fan base. They finished the 2011 season with a record of 2-14. If they don’t win or show promise in the first season with Luck as their quarterback, fans will stop showing up at Lucas Oil Stadium. Losing fan support will doom the franchise and put them back into their state of being pre-Manning. Less fans equals less revenue. Less revenue results in a lower talent base.
What does Indy need to do to ensure that this doesn’t happen? First, they need to sign a veteran backup quarterback. They need someone to mentor Andrew Luck as he makes the transition from college to professional football. Without the proper mentor, Luck could get lost and frustrated in his first season. All of the analysts project Luck as the next great pro quarterback. They say he is a can’t miss talent and a sure NFL star. The analysts have been wrong in the past (Most notably Ryan Leaf, who was picked one spot after Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft).
The next two season are vital for the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton will land on his feet somewhere, while the Colts need to reinvent their identity for the post-Manning era. Winning will make everyone forget about Manning, but the Colts will be fighting an uphill battle.