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What I Don't Like About the Manning Option

I dunno if there's any consensus on the option of adding Peyton Manning. If there is, I guess it is "yes, please". If we were to add him, assuming it is a cap-friendly, incentive-laden contract, I'd be pretty happy too. Assuming Manning can still play at a high level, this team has a much higher talent level on the rest of the team than the Colts have had in the past few years, and they could go very deep.

But there are no easy answers to the quarterback issue, and that goes for Peyton too. This post isn't an argument against signing Manning, but more of a way to sort through my thoughts and highlight what some of the disadvantages are

I don't like the idea of the Seahawks being a retirement home for Hall of Famers. I know, not much in the way of a rational argument there, but seeing names like Jerry Rice or Franco Harris on the list of Seahawks Hall of Famers annoys me. At least Warren Moon and John Randle had some good years with us. Will Peyton be more like Moon or end up more like, say, Favre with the Jets? Obviously, this logic can go right out the window if he takes us deep into the playoffs or even to the Superbowl.

On to the more rational, I see a lot of people noting the Peyton Manning situation is unique, or described as a cap casualty situation. I don't think this is correct, I think Peyton's impending release shares a lot of similarities to earlier situations. If the Colts were relatively sure of his abilities to play at a high level, even if only for a few years, don't you think they would take the gigantic heist the Luck pick would warrant and run? Peyton fits exactly with a long list of high-level quarterbacks or players released due to a variety of reasons. It's never just about cap, performance, or injury, it's about all three. Manning's cap number being as large as it is doesn't help, nor does the general decrepit state of the surrounding roster and the huge need of overhaul, so sure, there are better situations out there for him than staying.

So, there's a huge buyer beware clause. If you think that can be hand-waved away by saying "performance-based contract", then - again - it's never that easy. Yes, he'll be willing to shift the balance away from guaranteed money, but his salary numbers will still be high, and a lot of incentives will no doubt be pretty likely to be reached, like simple start numbers, or even numbers guaranteed against injuries. Could I be wrong and could Manning get a before-unseen almost-purely-unlikely-incentive-based contract? Well yeah, but it doesn't seem too likely. This is about his injury, yes, but it's also about his performance. The dude has taken his licks throughout his career, and has had multiple neck surgeries. Will he be able to overcome that to perform at his old level? Maybe yes, but maybe no.

That was the short-term stuff. There's a reason guys like Favre join teams like the Jets or Vikings, teams looking for the final piece rather than in the process of overhauling the roster. If you think the Seahawks are done rebuilding, well, you could maybe argue that, but I don't agree. I think we're on the precipice of being done, and moving on to competing year-in year-out, but being on the precipice is a touchy point. The Bucs were on the precipice last off-season, and look where they are now. At this point, it's easy to knock the rebuild into one path or another. Youth is definitely an issue when you're adding to the team now, as significant additions have to be able to contribute for at least five years to coincide with what I hope will be the period of serious competition for this Seahawks generation. So, yeah, Peyton is too old to make sense for a team in a rebuild stage like ours.

Why does that matter? Well, let's say Peyton does contribute at his old level. If he does, he's going to mask a lot of problems the team has. Franchise-level players usually do. When Earl Thomas masks the problems our defense have, I just shrug and go "well, we're going to have him for years anyway" (he better be a Seahawk for life, dammit). But when Peyton Manning does, he's doing so with abilities he'll soon lose, services we'll soon lose. So it's like an artificial inflation of your quality, pushing you back draft on draft. Any roster has holes, let alone one that's being rebuilt like ours, and these holes will be very hard to plug up when you're drafting later than your core, young talent warrants. This is the trap many teams with franchise quarterbacks fall in to, but it's a particular problem when the quarterback is older and prone to have his career end at any point, as the Colts evinced.

And, finally, people like to pretend GMs and coaches operate in a void, and are free to set up the perfect plan. Pick up Peyton Manning, spend a significant (2nd or 3rd or maybe 4th) draft pick on his successor, so you can groom him and flawlessly transition to the next era. Well, it doesn't work that way. We have no way of knowing how much free credit/elbow room Carroll and Schneider have, but it's not infinite. They answer to an owner, the owner has to keep in mind the fans and media, including less rational individuals than frequent Field Gulls. Adding someone like Peyton Manning breeds expectations, and expectations decrease your margin for error. That means adding specific talent to support Manning's abilities and flaws, and it precludes spending a high pick on his successor any time soon. Sure, we can work on the assumption our FO "is better than that", but that seems a beet too homer-based for me.

So there you have it. Will I be excited if we do add Peyton Manning? Yeah. But do I think it's a great idea, one I want to argue for actively, one that I hope will happen? Nope. For all the nervousness-inducing reasons listed above.

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