That’s a question on the minds of many Jets fans these days, following a very lackluster 8-8 season that ended with dissension in the locker room and uncertainty that quarterback Mark Sanchez can ever lead them to the promised land.
At least one Jets fan, former Jets running back Curtis Martin, thinks it’s a no-brainer.
"I'm not saying anything against Mark Sanchez, but Peyton Manning... I have a lot of respect for the guy,” Martin said in an interview with ESPNNewYork.com on Jan. 27. “I played against him for a number of years.
“I wouldn't care who was on my team — if Peyton Manning was available, I would go after him."
Eli’s big brother, 36, sat out the entire season following surgery to remove a disc in his upper spine. The disc was replaced with a bone graft and has fused, but it was his third neck operation in two years.
That’s one reason Manning could be available. There are two others.
One is that the Colts will have the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, which features Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. The other is that Manning is due a $28 million signing bonus on March 8 unless the team gives him his release.
"I’m very bullish on taking that chance," Martin told ESPN NewYork.com. "I don’t care if he’s 38, 36, whatever, I would be interested in taking that chance. At 35, 36, I’m definitely interested.”
Jets coach Rex Ryan has said the team would have an interest in signing Manning, Newsday reported.
Of course, it would mean trading Sanchez, who is signed through 2013. John B of ganggreennation.com said trading Sanchez would clear $9 million in salary cap space that would be necessary to acquire Manning.
"You’re literally talking about one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game," Martin added of Manning. "Him having a year off, the type of competitor Peyton Manning is, I think he’s going to come back and surprise everyone and be even stronger — if he can come back."
Meanwhile, Colts owner Jim Irsay said any talk about Peyton Manning’s future in Indianapolis would have to wait until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 between Eli Manning’s Giants and Tom Brady’s New England Patriots.
“There’s a great interest here, but Peyton and I, in talking this weekend and everything, we want to focus on the game,” Irsay was quoted as saying in the New York Daily News. “He’s excited about Eli, having his whole family coming in. And hosting the game. That’s where the focus should be.”
If the four-time MVP does leave the Colts, Irsay said it would be hard to forget the Peyton Manning era.
“Eventually there will be the statue and there will be all those things,” Irsay told the News. “[Peyton] and I have been through a lot of battles together. We’re very close.
“I love him and what he’s meant to the franchise. . . . He’s everything you dream about as an owner in terms of getting that type of player. I've been just blessed with all the things that he’s done for the franchise through the years.”
—JOE GREENE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM