It could happen any day now.
Manning has been training at Duke University, trying to reach a point with his health -- and that stubborn nerve condition, in particular -- where he is ready to audition for teams and put his neck, shoulders and arm on display. He is doing everything possible to be able to play in 2012, while knowing full well that nothing is guaranteed.
Still, despite all of that, a wild frenzy will begin the moment Manning becomes a free agent -- no longer Colts property, free to begin visiting other teams. And while his health will make the timing of all of this tricky and the process of landing Manning could end up being quite complicated, there will be great interest in the future Hall of Famer.
You just never know
Regardless of the nerve issues, too many teams are starved for a quarterback, or starved for a face-of-the-franchise figure to market for ticket sales. With that in mind, let's delve into the hypothetical recruiting process for Manning.
Here's my take -- a little cheeky, perhaps -- on how the suspected interested parties could make their pitch to No. 18 in email form, to at least get the ball rolling as it were ...
Peyton, it's time to head west, my friend. Let us remind you of why.
You've had some great receivers before, but never anything like Larry Fitzgerald. He's a freak of nature. Did you see what he did last season with John Skelton throwing him the ball most of the time? Think about the records you could set. Harrison to Wayne to Fitzgerald -- just has a certain ring to it.
Oh, and we play defense now under coordinator Ray Horton. Also, Beanie Wells delivered on the ground last year.
What's that? You say we just traded a lot for Kevin Kolb and gave him a huge contract? Well, we'll let you in on a secret -- we can get out of the deal before his $7 million roster bonus is due on March 17 no problem. Let us worry about that.
You won't find a better place to live than Scottsdale. The golf is tremendous. Oh, and it's a dry heat!
Let's get this out of the way first, Peyton. Don't worry about Alex Smith and whatever we have to pay to keep him, or how we juggle two QBs on the market at the same time. Whatever we give him ($8 million guaranteed?), we'll figure out the cap space and budget. No big thing.
Still plenty of room for you here.
At this stage of your career, with all you're putting yourself through to come back, it only makes sense to join a winner. Come get your second title right here.
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We came a few fumbled punts from going to the Super Bowl with Smith and no wide receivers. 13-3, with the best defense in the NFL, a young, dynamic offensive line and a dominant running game. What's not to like?
Check out the blueprints for the sparkling new stadium we're building in Santa Clara. Sure, it might not be ready until 2015 ... but we've got everything you need to prolong your career that long. And if you're our quarterback, we'll be christening it on a Thursday night celebrating a Super Bowl win.
Who are we competing with here for your services? The rest of the division we just dominated? We're famous for Hall of Fame quarterbacks already. It's time you joined the list.
We're struggling to fill the stadium. We haven't had a quarterback since Dan Marino retired. Name your price, Peyton. Anything within reason, we'll do. Nobody else wants to guarantee you anything. Come to us.
Oh, and you'd get two cracks a year at your ol' pal Tom Brady. Wouldn't it be fun trying to keep him out of the playoffs.
You already have a home down here. There isn't a better place to live and raise a family. (Did we mention no state income tax yet?!)
You already won one Super Bowl in our stadium. It's time to create more championship memories here. No one wants you as badly as we do. Let us prove it to you.
Peyton, please take a look at the accompanying attachment to start. It's a chart reflecting actual dollars spent on payroll the last 10 years. Yes, that's Paul Allen right up there with Jim Irsay. That's how we roll.
No one has better resources and is more committed to winning. Check out our practice facility. Yup, best in the league. No one is more first-class.
Are you a Skittles guy, Peyton? Of course you are, right? You've seen Marshawn Lynch in beast mode, with the best stadium in the NFL literally shaking like an earthquake. You should be a part of that. The 12th Man would go bonkers for you.
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Our defense was stout. We have a big-play guy in Sidney Rice. Coach Carroll knows how to handle a superstar. And you'll love the views of the Seattle waterfront from your penthouse suite.
Those shrimp cocktails in Indy? Not even close to the cuisine out here.
And everything is a little more laid back. You'll be able to lead a normal life and be an icon to an entire region of the country.
We're building something special here, Peyton, and you can put us over the top. Coach Carroll has landed plenty of top recruits before, and we don't intend to lose out on this one.
Peyton, we've seen the Oreo commercials. We know the sibling rivalry. Nobody else will give you the opportunity to go head-to-head with Eli twice a year. What big brother wouldn't want to show lil' bro exactly where he stands in the family hierarchy?
And we're utterly desperate to give this franchise an identity. After all, we haven't had a franchise quarterback since, what, Joe Theismann? That has to change.
Do you want to get into Hollywood after football? Our owner has connections. Not to mention the properties and boats all over the world -- they're all yours whenever you want to use them. We'll pull out all the stops. (You saw what we paid Haynesworth, right?)
Sure, we haven't spent much on big talent the last few years, but with you, all that's changing! We've got all kinds of cap space and plenty of draft picks -- trust us, we'll put it all to use to get you whatever you need. And the practice bubble is under construction; can't risk you slipping on wet grass at practice.
We need to fill our massive stadium and give our fan base some hope. You are the person to return us to glory.
Just tell us what it's going to take.