[Promoted from the FanPosts. Well thought out article. -Matt]
With a 2 game lead on the field for Andrew Luck, his time with a horseshoe on his helmet is rapidly approaching. There is very little doubt that Luck will be drafted first by the Colts. However, common thought insists that Manning and Luck cannot, or should not co-exist. On the surface that makes sense. Once you look at all parties in this situation, I'm not completely sure it does. This article assumes that both parties in the matter have some choice. If you don't think Luck has some choice, just look at Peyton's little brother.
Why Luck wouldn't want to come to the Colts if Manning stays:
The first, best, biggest, and only (in my opinion) reason that Luck wouldn't want to come to the Colts is the idea that he isn't going to play right away if Manning is there. Football players egos being what they are, and their careers being as short as they are, this is understandable. If I had just spent the last 2 years being told I was the best college QB in the country I would want to play right now too. The only other reason to not want to come to the Colts was removed last summer with the new CBA. He's going to get essentially a set amount of money wherever he goes.
Why Luck would want to come to the Colts if Manning stays:
Lets start with something that needs to be considered when talking about Andrew Luck. This a VERY smart young man. He was the co-valedictorian in a well respected high school. He attends Stanford University where grades still matter for entrance. He stayed at Stanford even after his coach left because he knew he'd have a shot at a BCS title. This is a guy that isn't going to make a purely emotional decision. Luck is going to way all options before doing anything.
Looking at the Colts he sees a solid organisation with an owner committed to winning. The owner part can not be overrated. Whether you think the Polians are great or terrible, Jim Irsay has done a great job of securing the Colts franchise in this market and has a history of making decisions that have helped improve this team. In addition, the Colts as a team are used to winning. A lot. Luck wouldn't be going to a team that needs to learn how to consistently win, he'd get to step into a situation where winning is expected. That isn't a small issue to overcome in the NFL. There are reasons the top teams stay at the top.
Luck has to see that the Colts are an offensively minded team, that plays in a passing division. The AFC south allows Luck to play games either in a dome or in warm weather for the majority of every year. That is a great advantage for a QB. The Colts offensive system is tailor made for smart (see above) QB’s. In fact, the Colts system can not be run by anyone but a smart QB. Luck being smart means he has even more value to the Colts and puts him in a better bargaining position.
Luck is a student of the game. Don’t believe me? Why do you think he chose to go to Stanford to play for Jim Harbaugh in 2007 after Stanford went 4-8? He knew Harbaugh would teach him how to play QB in the NFL. Why has he attended and helped at Manning’s passing camp? Its the best in the country. Why would a smart football player, who has made decisions in the past to study football, pass the chance to work with one of the greatest QB’s of all time? There is no one who knows the Colts QB heavy offensive system like Manning. He may even know it better than Tom Moore. Manning is the Jedi master of this offense. Luck understands that having a year or 2 apprenticeship under Manning would be the equivalent of getting his PhD in QB. Luck has to understand that. He’s just too smart.
From here, factor in one more person. Aaron Rodgers. He is the modern poster boy for "waiting to play." I know he was picked 26 and not 1. I know that he fell to the Packers and I know that he supposedly had some throwing mechanics issues. When asked on Mike and Mike about Luck, Rodgers said that if he had the opportunity to be Manning’sback-up, he should jump at the chance.
Obviously I don’t know Luck personally, but I find it hard to believe that a QB as smart as Luck wouldn’tsee coming to the Colts as the best thing for his long term career.
Why the Colts wouldn’t want Luck if Manning stays:
Believe it or not, there is a better argument for the Colts not wanting Luck, than for Luck not wanting the Colts. The first is the most obvious. The QB controversy. For what it’s worth, this is a problem in 2014, not 2012. NO one is going to begin to suggest that Luck is better than a healthy Manning. Just not happening for a rookie. However, with 2 years in the Colts system, and Manning being 38 starting the 2014 season that question will be there. For my money, it’s always better to have that problem than not. In addition, Manning has stated many times that he intended to play for 16 - 17 years. I’ve never thought he would see the end of his newest contract. Sixteen years has him retiring after the 2013 season. If he sticks with that plan, he already has his exit taken care of, just in time for Luck to be ready.
The other big issue is the salary cap. Picking in the top of the first round isn’t cheap. But the new CBA has made it much better for teams drafting high. Cam Newton got 22 million guaranteed over 4 years. If the Colts have to pay a premium to Luck of 1 million more per year, that is 26 million over 4 years or an average of 6.5 million a year. That represents approximately 5% of the 120 million salary cap. Add that to Manning’s numbers and you have a large cap percentage dedicated to the Qb position. Ican see why the Colts would think twice doing it.
The final issue is about making one last run with Manning and loading up on draft picks. Andrew Luck will likely be worth 3 #1 picks and a couple of #2’s. That is a very tough deal to pass up. With several future #1 picks, the Colts could attempt to find the next Manning in a few years in the draft and still dramatically improve this year. This also is a pretty compelling argument if you are taking the "mortgage the future, we can win now" approach.
Why the Colts would want Luck if Manning stays:
The next 14 years. I have yet to hear anyone not named Phil Sims doubt Andrew Luck’s ability to be an NFL QB. It seems his basement is an average QB, with his ceiling being ridiculously high. Considering QB is the most important position in football, and you know Manning will be retiring in a few years even if he is healthy, it would be fantastic to have is replacement waiting in the wings. Luck could learn to read defenses and make adjustments on the field by studying one of the greatest QB’s in history up close. That is even if Manning doesn’t want to help. Imagine if Manning decides to work with him what kind of QB the Colts might end up with? This offense, with a great QB at the helm, is proven to be able to win a SB. If you have a shot at a player that can run this offense, why would you pass on him? In addition, Luck is a relatively cheap insurance policy to have around. Do you think Irsay would spend an extra 6.5 mill a year to keep from having another 0-11 start to a season? I think he would.
The Colts will end up with the first pick in the 2012 draft. The Colts will select Andrew Luck. The only way Luck doesn’t end up with a horseshoe on his helmet is if Manning is definitely healthy, and he pulls an Eli/Elway and makes it clear he isn’t coming. If everyone involved is as smart as they seem, the Colts will keep him, and the Colts will have a chance to be great until 2024. I think Colts fans could deal with one 0-16 season if that was the end result.