|Former AFC South rivals, Peyton Manning and Kerry Collins, will now be teammates on the Colts.|
This stands in stark contrast to the optimism permeating the organization July 30, when Manning signed his five-year, $90 million contract. The thought then was Manning would be ready for the season opener at Houston. That tenor has been tempered over the past few days when Manning said he was uncertain about his return and more top-level people from the organization shared the same sentiments.
Adding Collins is more than just insurance. It provides a shot of confidence to a veteran roster that knows backup Curtis Painter simply isn't capable of keeping this team competitive no matter how well all the remaining elements of the team plays. Painter had his chance and he's shown he's not Jon Kitna or Shaun Hill. Team president Bill Polian is savvy enough to know the temperature of the locker room and being able to land a proven veteran like Collins was a nice move to settle things down.
Collins, 38, retired in the offseason because he didn't want to be a "nurse maid" to rookie Jake Locker in Tennessee. But being the backup and possible fill-in for Manning is a different story. Collins knows his role and the type of franchise he's dealing with. It would be unfair to expect Collins to come in on two weeks notice and play half as effectively as Manning. However, whatever he can give -- namely experience and leadership -- is better than what Painter or Dan Orlovsky could provide.
Even if Manning is able to start the season against Houston, there apparently is enough concern that he won't make it through the season. Thus, signing Collins became paramount for Indianapolis.
There have been questions for years as to why the Colts opted for younger project-type backups instead of keeping a veteran in the wings. There is a very simple answer as to why: Veteran quarterbacks would rather play elsewhere. There is little opportunity to ever play because of Manning's durability. Same with Tom Brady. That's why guys like Kitna and Hill and Bruce Gradkowski and David Carr sign with other teams.
That's why a retired player like Collins was one of the few trusted veterans available.
Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89