Found December 02, 2011 on The Sports Rocker:
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Part V in our continuing coverage of Andrew Luck's entry into the NFL finds the Indianapolis Colts right on track: 0-11 after this past weekend's loss to the Carolina Panthers. With games at New England and at Baltimore next up on the docket, the Colts are expected to reach 0-13 with ease.

So how are they about to screw this whole Andrew Luck thing up?

At 0-13, the Colts would be unable to win more than three games. This would leave them with competition for the first pick from only: Minnesota (2-9), Carolina (3-8), St. Louis (2-9), and Miami (3-8). One of these four (especially Minnesota or St. Louis) would need to go winless the remainder of the season while the Colts win their final three games to keep Indy from receiving the first pick in the draft, a pick they would likely use on Andrew Luck to shore up their problem at QB.

So the only legitimate way they could win their final three games (no offense, Painter and Orlovsky) would be if Peyton could come back to play this season. Right on cue, Peyton Manning to increase workouts:
One day after Manning's latest monthly checkup, Dr. Robert Watkins gave the winless Indianapolis Colts and their franchise quarterback some good news in this miserable season: The four-time league MVP is healing.
Surely that doesn't mean Peyton will play this year, right?
The Colts would like to see Manning practice at some point before the end of the season, since the Colts have to decide by late February 2012 whether to pay him a $28 million option bonus in late February.  Absent firm knowledge that he’ll be able to play in 2012 and unless Manning agrees to delay the due date for the payment, the Colts may have to cut him.
So the Colts are in a bind. By February they need to see Peyton play to make a decision on his bonus. But there's no chance of the post-season experience this year and unless they want to evaluate him on practice reps alone, the only chance to see him play at game speed would be during the final few weeks of the season. Except, what happens if he wins those games?

One, winning those games increases the chance they lose the number one overall pick (and hence a shot at Luck). Two, winning those games also would leave the Colts organization with a decision: why draft Luck if Manning can still play? Also how would you afford both Manning's salary and the salary that a number one pick would demand? Also, how do you test out that new QB if he's sitting behind Manning on the depth chart?

Had Peyton decided to go on IR and not play a single down this season, the decision for the Colts would be easy. Similarly had Peyton come back weeks ago, the Colts would have had more time to evaluate his recovery. But at this point in the season, nearing the inglorious honor of an 0-16 record and as outlandish as it may sound, the Colts may actually be better off cutting ties with Manning, recovery or not.

I've said this in previous Sweepstakes, just years removed from a near perfect season and Superbowl title, to cut Peyton sounds unthinkable. But, as much as it pains me to say, continuing to lose may be Indy's best shot at winning in the future.
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