If Peyton Manning comes back at full health next season and the Colts draft Andrew Luck, it would be one of the best NFL quarterback situations since Aaron Rodgers backed up Brett Favre, or Steve Young backed up Joe Montana.

Both guys want to play. Both guys deserve to play. The older one plays until he is sent away. It’s perfect. So salary cap be damned, this is an opportunity too good to pass up and the Colts would be wise to ignore trade offers for Peyton Manning.

Manning, of course, is one of the few veteran quarterbacks around worth trading for. You wouldn’t be wrong for thinking he can lead your team to the promised land. He is not Donovan McNabb or Carson Palmer. He is a legend, last seen playing in his prime. You can assume he’s still got it.

But Manning knows the Colts and he knows he can win with that team and if Andrew Luck sits behind Manning for a year, or even two, it will just make Luck a better quarterback who will last longer. And then if Manning still wants to play, trade him. But don’t trade him right away.

Freeing up salary cap space or getting a draft pick are not as important as bringing the franchise back to where it was when it was a Manning-centric winning team. If the Colts play it right, they will hand that version of the team off to Luck somewhere in the future rather than handing this current horrible version of the team to a rookie next year.

Of course, with all the time between now and April, the Colts have a lot of opportunity to over-think the situation. It will be tempting to trade Manning for a big haul of draft picks, but Luck is better off inheriting a winning team in a couple of years than a bunch of rookie teammates next year.

Sure, this goes against the most recent rookies-can-play-in-the-NFL trend, but the Colts have a special situation. Why not take advantage of it?


Brian Tarcy at briantarcy.comis the co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Football" with Joe Theismann, and the creator of the NFL humor site Whatzgonnahappen.com