Manning, Colts won’t end up together

Editorial Board

Change is hard.

We on the ISD Sports Editorial Board realize this and, because of that, we know exactly why Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts are having a hard time.

Manning has been the face of the Colts’ organization since he was drafted in 1998. Before that, the biggest thing to happen to Indianapolis football was the Cardiac Colts, who lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game in 1995.

Before that? You have to go back to Johnny Unitas.

So it makes sense that Colts owner Jim Irsay — who’s guiding another overhaul of a franchise that fell to ruin with Manning’s neck injury —wouldn’t know how to navigate these waters.

Though it’s hard, change in this situation is necessary, and we think everyone involved realizes it.

Sorry, Colts fans, but you won’t see Manning play football for the Colts again. The proof is in the pudding, the pudding being the Colts’ No. 1 overall position in the upcoming NFL draft, as well as the availability of Andrew Luck.

Last time the Colts had the No. 1 pick, they took Manning after a 3-13 season and were rebuilding.

This time, the Colts will take Luck after a 2-14 season and, as mentioned before, are rebuilding.

With Luck, the Colts can hit the restart button the way they did with Manning 14 years ago.

As for Manning?

There are obviously a number of places he could end up, and we’ve highlighted our favorite scenarios.

Best case: San Fransisco 49ers. With Frank Gore to hand off to and a ferocious defense, the 49ers could be Super Bowl-bound with Manning.

Most interesting: New York Jets. Another team with a great defense, the Jets could use consistency from a quarterback — something Manning, even a lesser version of himself, would provide. Plus he’d get two matchups a year with Tom Brady.

Most likely: Arizona Cardinals or Washington Redskins. While the 49ers and Jets pose interesting and advantageous scenarios for Manning, these two have the money and the clear need.

The Redskins looked good at times in 2011 and with Manning could be a playoff team. For the Cardinals, it’s clear Kevin Kolb was a mistake, and Manning would obviously be an upgrade.

Where will he end up? It’s hard to tell.

Regardless, Manning will be somewhere other than Indy.