Asked recently about the possibility of quarterback Peyton Manning playing for the Jets, agent Tom Condon offered merely a shrug.
That seems to be the most appropriate gesture for assessing the current state of the relationship between Manning and the Colts.
The verbal response encompassed the Jets and the other 30 NFL teams. “Peyton is under contract,” Condon told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. “If that changes, we’ll consider the options.”
And there apparently will be several. The Cardinals reportedly will jump into the bidding, as will the Dolphins. The 49ers, where another Condon client, Alex Smith, has finished a one-year contract, could make sense. As could a team like the Texans, which would become a championship contender with the addition of a top-five quarterback.
Really, if Peyton is healthy, most teams not named “Patriots” or “Packers” or “Saints” or “Giants” could be/should be interested in at least toying with the possibility of the kind of upgrade Peyton would provide.
Condon’s comments also offered another potential clue as to Peyton’s current mindset regarding the Colts and, more specifically, owner Jim Irsay. Asked about last week’s Twitter tsunami sparked by actor Rob Lowe “reporting” that Peyton will retire, Condon called the issue “[v]ery unusual, considering that Peyton doesn’t know him.”
But Lowe knows Irsay. And Condon’s words could be interpreted as a shrewd effort to pin responsibility for the erroneous (and maybe wishful) retirement report on Irsay.
Irsay, like the Packers four years ago, would surely love nothing more than for Manning to play for no one else. Whether Irsay is willing to give Manning another $28 million to possibly not play for the Colts in order to keep Manning from playing for another team is the question that Irsay must answer by March 8.
If nothing else has become clear in the past four days, the chances of Peyton agreeing to postpone that deadline plummeted to something close to zero the moment Irsay called Peyton a “politician.”