Earlier this year, the talk among Miami Dolphins fans was all about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Would the Dolphins actually be so bad this year, they would complete 2011 by earning the top spot in next year's draft, and thus the right to snag the "best prospect since Peyton Manning?" The Dolphins have managed to win 4 games over the last 5 weeks, and taken themselves right out of the "Andrew Luck Sweepstakes" while Manning's team, the Indianapolis Colts, are winless and seem destined to pick the Heisman finalist.
But, assuming Manning's neck heals, what happens when the Colts have Manning and Luck?
"I don't think it'd necessarily be great for either one," former New Orleans Saints quarterback and Peyton's father, Archie Manning told FOX Radio yesterdau. "I think Andrew's the type of mature player ... he can walk right in. I mean, these other three or four (rookie passers) that are playing this year, (if) they can walk in and contribute, Andrew can, too."
Suddenly, it looks like the possible trade demand won't be a power play by Luck, but rather Peyton Manning.
"I used to play with [Luck's] dad [Oliver - they were teammates with the Houston Oilers]. ... I'm in New York, I heard from him last night," Archie continued. "Peyton's also tried to help Andrew and kind of be a friend. I doubt if either one wants to play on the same team."
Peyton Manning has had three neck surgeries over a 19-month period, with the most recent being back in September. That surgery was a single-level fusion in his neck, as doctors attempt to alleviate the nerve damage in the quarterback's neck. Last week, Manning was cleared to add more effort to his workout routine - he's not yet able to fully practice, but he is throwing more now, and lifting weights again. His recovery seems to be on track.
And, that recovery could be key to the Manning family's next move. This is the same family that worked a draft day power play for Peyton's younger brother Eli. In the 2004 draft, the San Diego Chargers held the first pick, and were clearly planning to select Eli with that pick. Eli, and then Archie, both stated Eli would refuse to play for the Chargers if they selected him. The Chargers would eventually pick Eli with the top spot, and then trade him to the New York Giants for Phillip Rivers, and two additional draft choices.
So, would Peyton try to find his way out of Indianapolis? Would the Colts trade their future Hall of Fame quarterback? Would they look elsewhere with the first pick in the 2012 draft?
There are a lot of questions and possibilities in all of this. But the biggest question is, if Peyton wants a trade, and the Colts will honor his request, where would he go?
Enter the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins are currently on a three game home winning streak, and have won four of their last five games. The Dolphins have demonstrated, despite starting the season 0-7, that they are competitive, and don't have many holes to fill. Miami could be seen as a desirable destination for a quarterback nearing the tail end of his career, a quarterback looking to make a push for the Super Bowl.
Would the Dolphins consider this as a possibility, knowing they are only going to get 3- to 5-years out of Manning?
If not the Dolphins, who else would make sense for the 11 time Pro-Bowler? Looking at teams that are close to a championship contender, but should be looking for a quarterback to make that run, one other team jumps out - the New York Jets. The team has already demonstrated a desire to bring in a quarterback simply to try to win now (see the Brett Favre experiment). They are standing behind their current quarterback, Mark Sanchez, but are clearly not as enthralled with him as they once may have been.
Plus, that would put both Peyton and Eli in New York. The marketing opportunities and the family reunion could be enough to make that the destination of choice for the elder Manning brother.
In the end, if Peyton Manning is healthy, and the Colts are going to draft Andrew Luck, and Manning wants to make the power play move out of Indianapolis, and the Dolphins would consider the price the Colts would ask, this could all come down to a very familiar battle.
New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins. The winner could bring Peyton Manning back into the AFC East.