Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/26/12
It's looking more and more like Peyton Manning has played his last snap as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. If the Colts' claim that they "won't pass" on Andrew Luck with the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft didn't spell it out for you before, perhaps the hiring of defensive-minded coach Chuck Pagano did the trick.

And, of course, there's that whole $28 million option bonus thing.

The reality is, Peyton Manning is a 35-year-old superstar quarterback with a bad neck, a gigantic bonus looming, and nothing but questions staring him down as his franchise attempts to brace for the worst.

And at least for Manning, the worst may already be being realized. Manning admitted himself earlier in the week that things just weren't the same in Indy anymore, forcing many to suspect he's come to terms with the fact that he'll either be released, traded, or will opt for retirement.

To keep it light and fun, let's roll with the notion that one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time won't bow out so cheaply. Here's a look at the top five potential teams that could/should vie for Manning's services, should be become available by trade or as a free agent:

1. San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco just got eliminated from the Playoffs because Alex Smith wasn't efficient when it mattered. You could actually probably blame return man Kyle Williams more than Smith, but the point should still be well taken. If the 49ers - a team with a solid rushing attack and an elite defense - had the option of signing Manning, they shouldn't hesitate one bit. And neither should he in regards to joining the them.

The 49ers don't have many sexy options in the passing game, but the signing of Manning could influence them to add some more talent at receiver, and/or bring in Manning pals Reggie Wayne and/or Pierre Garcon.

2. New York Jets

While the 49ers are literally the closest team to the Super Bowl on this list, the Jets are arguably better built to make a strong run. They made it to two AFC Championships in the past three years, have a strong defense, and arguably have only been held back by spotty quarterback play. Manning would have Santonio Holmes and could get another wide receiver if he came into town, although the big question will remain if he can handle operating under Rex Ryan.

3. Miami Dolphins

Miami has been extremely open about two things: they want to get a major quarterback upgrade, and Manning is their first choice to do so. Green Bay's Matt Flynn has serious ties to the Dolphins with ex-Packers' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin taking over as head coach, but Miami knows they could be serious Playoff contenders with Manning under center. It'd be pretty interesting to see Manning go and win in a town where the great Dan Marino could not.

4. Arizona Cardinals

Can Manning finish the job Kurt Warner started? It's not out of the question, even with Kevin Kolb's bloated salary hanging around. If the Cardinals cut or traded Kolb (good luck with that), it could open up a real possibility of the team trying to make another deep Playoff run with an aging veteran quarterback. Manning is still "just" 35, and if healthy, would go to work with arguably the best receiver he's ever played with in Larry Fitzgerald (sit back down, Marvin Harrison). The Cardinals also have good coaching, a solid ground game, and an aggressive and maturing defense. 

5. Washington Redskins

There's no doubt Washington is the least likely to land Manning on this short list, but I like their chances over the Seahawks or any other scrub team that has faint hopes of acquiring Manning. Mike Shanahan won both of his Super Bowls with an old John Elway that basically used a crane to meander around the field, so you know he can put together a winning team with a veteran guy. The only real problem with this picture is the team around Manning wouldn't be good enough (as it is right now) to even win the NFC East, much less seriously compete in the Playoffs.

What do you think the future holds for Manning? Feel free to comment below.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Former NFL LB Armstrong, wife reportedly killed by 16-year-old son

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio


Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

Brown, Marshall are apparently serious about their car bet

Lacy, Starks could split carries to start season

Cyborg Santos post-surgery skull photos are eerie

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker