Peyton Manning, one of the best quarterbacks of all time is a free agent. I personally believe the Miami Dolphins should do everything they can to secure his talents, but others say because Manning is 36 years old and coming off neck surgery the Dolphins should instead have tried to trade up in the draft to secure a top young quarterback in the draft like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III or go after the 26 year old Green Bay back-up Matt Flynn who looked great in his two career starts.
I think it is a smarter bet to wager on someone who has had a larger sample size of past success in the NFL as Manning has rather than the unknown and to prove this point we will set the Way Back Machine back 19 years where a similar set of circumstances arose. So put on your flannels and bring your Rump Shaker cassette as we go back to March 1993.
There are two consensus top picks in the draft in Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer. There is also an older Hall of Fame Quarterback who missed the previous two seasons due to injury in Joe Montana. Montana was 37 years old and went on to play two seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs before retiring. He played in 25 of 32 possible games but led the Chiefs to two playoff berths including an AFC championship game losing to the Buffalo Bills.
Meanwhile, the younger sure things in Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer went on to have radically different NFL careers. Bledsoe was drafted by the New England Patriots leading them all the way to a Super Bowl loss after the 1996 season. In 4 of his 8 years as a Patriots starter Bledsoe took New England to the playoffs, but the Patriots most successful season was when Bledsoe sat on the bench for sixth round draft pick Tom Brady and the Patriots went to the Super Bowl. Bledsoe was then traded to Buffalo for a first round draft pick.
Rick Mirer, meanwhile, was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, where he never led them to a winning season before being traded in 1997 finishing a journeyman career in 2004.
And that unfortunately seems to be the pattern for drafting quarterbacks. In every draft where there’s a Bledsoe, there’s also a Mirer. For every Donovan McNabb, there’s an Alkili Smith. For every Peyton Manning, there’s a Ryan Leaf.
Except now the Dolphins have a chance to in essence draft Peyton Manning. Sure he’s old and infirmed, but the guy knows what he’s doing and I’d rather have two certain years of making the playoffs with Manning like the Chiefs did with Joe Montana, than rolling the dice with some young guy who will certainly struggle their first season or two and then have a fifty/fifty chance of playing noteworthy football.
As for Matt Flynn, I can think of only one career back-up who was signed a s a free agent who went on to lead a team to a Super Bowl and that would be Matt Hasselbeck (who interestingly enough also came from Green Bay). But for every Hasselbeck, there’s a dozen Scott Mitchells and Matt Cassels who never play too much better than a back-up.
So Mr. Ross, owner of the Miami Dolphins, after this history lesson you can see it is in your best interest to secure Peyton Manning as the Dolphin’s quarterback. If he wants money, give the man money. If he wants to be coach, fire that bum you got from Green Bay. If he wants a virgin sacrifice every full moon, I expect you to convert to paganism.