Peyton Manning, the forgotten quarterback

Peyton Manning (Getty)

Other than the legend of Tom Brady, the idea of Peyton Manning being second to anyone in the conversation of NFL quarterbacks was once unthinkable. But that's exactly what's happened and why Arizona might stand to reap the rewards.

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Peyton Manning being overshadowed … Who would have thunk it?

Other than the legend of Tom Brady, the idea of Manning being second to anyone in the conversation of NFL quarterbacks was once unthinkable given his tremendous body of work since entering the league in 1998.

But after sitting out the entire 2011 campaign with a neck injury – that jeopardized the balance of his career – Manning's outstanding accomplishments have been all but forgotten in the discussion of the NFL's top tier quarterbacks.

Due to the emergence of several budding stars at the position, as well as mainstays who continue to excel, Manning has become the forgotten quarterback.

With the NFL transforming to a quarterback-driven league now more than ever, players such as Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, and even Peyton's brother, Eli, have since outdone the once all-everything signal caller. And that's not even mentioning mainstays like Brady and Drew Brees who have rivaled Manning for years.

Now Manning's 14-year tenure with the Indianapolis Colts might be coming to an end. The 11-time Pro Bowler will more than likely be headed to a new team and a new chapter of his illustrious career.

With the Colts holding the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, all signs point to Jim Irsay and company selecting Stanford's Andrew Luck, Ironically, Luck is thought to be the best QB prospect hailing from the college ranks since no other than Manning himself.

Another ironic twist to this scenario is that there appears to be just a handful of potential landing spots for the elder Manning brother.

Obviously any prospective team would have a need for Manning's services. There's no doubt that team would need to be a contender. Manning would likely need to go to a stable franchise with an established coaching staff. Ample weapons on offense would be a requirement and a defense capable of holding its own.

So, exactly which NFL team fits all of these categories?

The New York Jets? Would they give up on Mark Sanchez so soon? The Miami Dolphins? They have a new coaching staff with previous ties to Green Bay Packers backup QB Matt Flynn. The Washington Redskins? Well, the Redskins have defined the term of ‘unstable franchise' for some time now.

That brings us to the Arizona Cardinals, who might just have as good of a shot as anybody in the Manning sweepstakes.

Larry Fitzgerald

Many of the pieces outlined above are in place for a Cardinals franchise desperate to return to the short stint of winning it experienced from 2008-2009.

Arizona is a contender in a winnable NFC West division and Ken Whisenhunt has an established coaching staff. Some weapons on offense are in place (most notably All-Pro wideout Larry Fitzgerald) as is a defense good enough to do its part. When examining Manning's checklist, the most pressing question marks in Arizona would be a need at quarterback and franchise stability.

While the Cardinals already have two decent options under center – Kevin Kolb and John Skelton – there is no guarantee that either has what it takes to lead the team back to the playoffs on a consistent basis.

Kolb struggled through an injury-plagued year during his first season with the Cardinals and while Skelton appears to have the intangibles needed to win at the game's highest level, a step back in his development is certainly a possibility.

Enter in Manning who would instantly bring stability, credibility and most importantly almost guaranteed results with him.

Factor in that Cardinals' ownership is thought to have a stronger commitment to winning now than it's had in the history of the franchise and Arizona might just be the most attractive destination for Manning to land, if and when the time comes.

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Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at

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