And then there was Peyton.
Which leaves veteran quarterback Peyton Manning, who missed the 2011 season after under having cervical fusion surgery in early September and the big, looming question that is his future — both in Indy and in football.
At this point, no one knows whether Manning will be able to play again. He’s throwing and continuing to work on his rehab, but that’s a far cry from playing and that March 8 deadline for his $28 million payment edges ever closer.
Tough day saying goodbye 2 my friend n my coach..there’s less than 75 living men that can say they walked out on SupBowl Sunday as an NFL HC
There’s also the presumed impending arrival of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the player the team is expected to take with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
Amid the uncertainty, there is this: there’s no question Manning was comfortable with Bill Polian and Caldwell, but clearly owner Jim Irsay is going to call the shots on this decision, along with General Manager Ryan Grigson.
“In regards to Peyton, we’re not even there with anything involving Peyton Manning quite yet,” Grigson said Tuesday as he announced Caldwell’s firing. “We have to know about his medical [issues]; there are so many things. I’m not there yet.”
Grigson came over from the Eagles just last week. “I have not had a chance to even get with him yet,” Grigson said. “We’re taking this thing piece by piece in a way that we feel is in the best interest of the franchise moving forward. We can’t go in 50 different directions. We have to go about things in the right way.”
Peyton’s brother, Eli, says New York is big enough for both of them. Peyton’s father, Archie, says Peyton “kind of likes his roots in Indy.” Crystal clear, right? Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star offers his opinion about what it all means.
If Manning is coming back, my sense is you keep the old gang together. You keep Caldwell, all the offensive coaches, the old system fully intact while going for a final Super Bowl run or two. But Irsay and Grigson keep talking about "rebuilding" and how this is a "new era." "Rebuilding" and "new era" sound a lot more like Luck than Manning to me.
I asked Grigson, "Should anybody read into this that you've moved on with the idea that Peyton Manning won't be here?"
"No," he answered quickly. "It's just I have not had a chance to even get with him yet. We're taking this piece-by-piece in the way we feel is in the best interest of the franchise."
But I think he knows. I think Irsay knows. These moves aren't made in a vacuum -- even without knowing where Manning's health will be in early March.
Do you think Peyton Manning will play next year and, if so, where will he play?
Eli Manning on Peyton
Archie Manning on Peyton