There was much consternation in Indianapolis when the Colts released superstar quarterback Peyton Manning last offseason while he was recovering from a neck injury. The future looks bright for the Colts moving forward with Andrew Luck under center, but Manning was nearly traded by Colts president Bill Polian in 2004.
Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay sat down for an exclusive interview with Indianapolis Star beat reporter Bob Kravitz. Kravitz tried to get to the bottom of how the team came to the decision to move Peyton Manning last offseason and get inside of his thinking surrounding the process. Kravitz writes that Irsay is a difficult interview and is a hard person to keep focused during his responses. As someone that follows Irsay on Twitter, that does not surprise me in the least.
Irsay stated that in 2004 in the middle of trying to reach a new deal with Manning, Polian suggested trading Manning and refocusing the direction of the Colts to become a defensive oriented team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Baltimore Ravens at the time.
“According to Irsay, in 2004, a frustrated Polian was at wit’s end as he attempted to secure Manning’s new $98 million contract and, in a fit of pique, told Irsay, “We need to trade Peyton; we can get a bunch of defensive players and become like Tampa Bay or Baltimore.” Irsay said no. “Understand something, Bill, we are not trading Peyton Manning, period,’’ Irsay recalled telling the former team president.”
Irsay did suggest that if the Colts had finished with the number two selection in last year’s draft, the team would have selected Robert Griffin III. If they had finished third or lower in the first round, Irsay suggested that the team would have tried to acquire Russell Wilson later in the draft while retaining Manning.
The moves seemly have worked out for all parties involved. Indianapolis has moved from one franchise quarterback to the next one. Manning had a very successful season and will now prepare for a possible Super Bowl run with the Denver Broncos again next season.
It would be interesting to speculate what sort of bounty the Colts would have netted had they actually gone ahead and traded Manning in 2004. It just might have been the biggest trade in NFL history.