The Colts will have to make many important decisions during the offseason. Perhaps no choice is as important as deciding the future at the quarterback position. If Manning is healthy, I believe that the best choice is to trade the #1 overall pick.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated has stated that the haul for the #1 pick would be in the neighborhood of 3 first round picks and two second round picks. Those picks would be more than enough to dramatically change the team.
This year, the Browns have 2 first round picks. They also have issues at the quarterback position. The following scenario assumes that the Colts trade the #1 overall pick to the Browns for 3 first round picks and two second round picks like Peter King said. The draft positions will change before the end of the season. This is not meant to be exact, but rather to give an idea of what the Colts could do.
Cleveland currently has the 5th, the Falcon's 25th pick, and their own 37th selection. The Colts have the 33rd pick.
This is how I could see the draft ending up:
5. Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
25. Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan St.
33. Mark Barron, S, Alabama
37. Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
This draft would give the Colts 50% turnover in the secondary, a new wide receiver for the offense, and a fresh piece to add to the defensive line.
In 2012, with a rookie QB, the Browns would most likely be drafting in the top 10. This means that in the 2013 NFL draft, the Colts would have 3 picks in the top 40 (the Browns 1st rounder, the Colts 1st rounder and the Browns 2nd rounder). The team could experience a similar makeover. If there is a QB that the team wants in 2013, they would have enough ammunition to trade up for him.
There are going to be people who say that you don't pass up on a franchise QB. I agree. However, there are great QBs in every draft. There are a few good ones coming out next year (Tyler Bray, Aaron Murray, Tyler Wilson, and Landry Jones if he decides to stay at Oklahoma). I don't believe that any QB prospect is worth the haul that Luck could bring. The Colts could essentially trade Luck for 5 picks in the top 40. That's incredible.
People point to the Broncos and Dolphins as teams that did not do a good job replacing their hall of fame quarterbacks. The Broncos didn't pick a first round QB until 2006 (Jay Culter). That's their fault. At the end of the John Elway era, the team should have drafted a QB. The Dolphins still haven't drafted a first round QB since Marino in 1984. They could have picked Matt Ryan in 2008, but decided on Jack Long instead.
The Colts need to draft a quarterback in the first round before the Manning era is over. If this is Manning's last year or he only has one more year left, then the team should keep the pick and draft Luck. However, if Manning is healthy, they should wait one or two years before taking a QB that high.