Peyton’s place wasn’t with Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on February 2, 2016 – 3:30 pm

Peyton Manning insists he hasn’t decided whether he will retire after the Super Bowl despite whatever he whispered to Bill Belichick. The Broncos quarterback doesn’t have the same arm he once did — he admitted it hasn’t been the same since his neck injury a few years ago — and to this, everybody nods their heads already having seen it on the field.

But Act II of Manning’s career has been fantastic even with his uneven end. No matter what the issues, he’s helped lead the Broncos to the Super BowlPeyton Manning twice, and it was just a couple of years ago Manning was flinging 55 touchdown passes (and he had 39 last year when everyone wondered if he was going south then.) Now he readies himself to take down the team that just sent the Cardinals to their unwanted end.

And for a moment, you think back to that few days in March of 2012 when Manning was released from the Colts and actually had the Cardinals on his short list of teams for which he wanted to play. So much would have been different.

There were logistical problems with Manning coming to the Cardinals from jump, not the least of which being a tight salary cap that could have been adjusted to get him on the roster but likely would have made it tough to put people around him. The offensive line at the time was not as good as now (although I maintained at the time and still believe that Manning alone makes any offensive line better with how quickly he delivers the ball and how he knows where to go with it every time.)

Manning liked then-coach Ken Whisenhunt. He insisted after he picked the Broncos that the notion he didn’t want to be in the NFC because of his brother being in the conference was incorrect. He did have Larry Fitzgerald, who was coming off a 1,400-yard season and, as you can see below when the two met after a preseason game, liked him some Peyton Manning.

Manning visited the Cards’ Tempe facility (pictured above right) and then in the next week chose the Broncos and the Cards stuck with Kevin Kolb. Whether it was ever serious or not, the decision changed a lot of things in Arizona. Whisenhunt’s team got off to a 4-0 start behind Kolb that season but lost 11 of their last 12 and the Cards changed both GM and coach. New GM Steve Keim traded for Carson Palmer, re-energizing both Palmer and the franchise. Bruce Arians, who was Manning’s first quarterbacks coach in the NFL and remains close to Manning, likely would never had gotten his one and only chance to be a head coach if Manning had picked the Cardinals.

It’s worked out well for Manning in Denver (and better if he can win Sunday.) It’s turned out pretty good for the Cardinals in the long run, although it’s fair to wonder what would have happened if Manning had made a different decision.

Peyton Manning, Larry Fitzgerald

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29 Responses to “Peyton’s place wasn’t with Cardinals”

  1. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 2, 2016 | Reply

    Forgot the connection with Peyton and BA.

    Could the 2013 or 14 cards made it to the superbowl with BA and Manning? (I think the 2014 cards could have)

    Or would we still have Whiz and Manning? How would that have worked out?

    Would Peyton saved Graves job? Lord knows, he was horrible in the draft. Can’t believe we would have the same players through the draft.

    How about the cap? Manning and Fitz would have taken up a 3rd of the cap.

    Not getting Peyton actually was one of the best things for the cards in the long run.

    But with no QB, man did I want Peyton back then.

  2. By Dr. G. on Feb 2, 2016 | Reply

    Among many other fans, I was interested for a time, though the neck injury was a concern. In hindsight, as you write, Darren, this entire changeover has surely been the best thing ever…probably…I only go back to 1988.

    And, Peyton, despite his HOF 1st round accolades, drives me away with the nutty jumping all around behind Center…trying to mess with the defense. Also, the team is in Arizona, not Omaha! Perhaps he would have adopted “”Arapahoe”” instead.

    Still rooting for Denver…don’t favor the unrestrained Show Boating of Carolina… later, Cards Fans

  3. By NJAzCardsFan on Feb 2, 2016 | Reply

    OT question- Darren- Any idea why Fells was only signed to 1 yr deal???

    Do you see Gresham returning???

  4. By Darren Urban on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    NJAz —

    RE: Fells

    At this point, especially since Fells is going to be 30, no reason to go long-term — especially since he’d be a restricted free agent again after the season.

    As for Gresham, we’ll see. He might want more money than they are willing to dole out.

  5. By vinma98 on Feb 2, 2016 | Reply

    Apologies to all the true old school Cards fans but I became a Cardinal fan during the KOLB era. I became a fan of Larry Legend and figured I should follow him, the team and the game of football for the 1st time in my life. Oh has it been such a ride!

    I remember 2012 was such a high beginning 4-0 but then faltering to a 4-12 record.
    I honestly thought the Defensive Coordinator at the time (Ray Horton) would be the head coach but, out of the blue, they hired B.A. I never expected how great this team would become after B.A., Keim and Carson arrived. Things have definitely changed for the better since 2012. NOW has been a greater “high” than that 4-0 start lol.

    Also, I definitely knew Carson was a keeper after one of his TD throws to Fitz in the end zone in his first Cards game against the Rams. I thought, “When Carson throws the ball deep, it looks so easy, so graceful for him…unlike Kolb who hurled the football like a shot-put…no offense.



  6. By texascard on Feb 2, 2016 | Reply

    That was an exciting time and I remember being so disappointed when he went to denver. He would have brought legitimacy but the money probably would have been a problem. I hope he beats the panthers and I hope we are prepared and ready to beat the panthers at our next chance.

  7. By Pete on Feb 2, 2016 | Reply

    IMO, it was the best thing that could have happened, Manning going to the Broncos. The Cards could have had some success but not the same success Manning has had with the Broncos. It probably would have ended Manning’s career sooner than where he is now and probably put the Cards in a worse position because he would have not been a long term solution. I think Manning realized the team wasn’t ready to win and he wanted to go to a team that was ready to win. The rest is history.

  8. By JD on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    He would have gotten his neck broken again. I was excited to see Peyton even considering the Cardinals, but that line was soooooooo bad he would have never lasted playing behind it. He made the right choice.

  9. By joe 67 on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    Just imagine, if his situation had been one year later, when BA and Tommy Moore were already here, I bet it just might have been.

  10. By Eric G on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    Honestly, Peyton would be dead if he went with the Cards. Look what happened to Kolb behind that awful line the Cards had at the time. Peyton probably met the line and said hell no and went to Denver. Don’t blame him one bit.

  11. By Marcelof on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    Regardin’ the QB situation in Arizona: Critics never made it wrong, they admited Palmer played his prime but also acknowledged you can’t trust him 100%. Horrible last two games. He looked scared.

    Moreover, there’re a lot of “what ifs” to add to the butterfly effect that would drive anyone crazy.

    One thing is for sure, Cards need a QB to be under Palmer’s wings for the coming years and be ready to take over as soon as #3 can make it no more. Stanton is not this guy.

    Arizona’s gonna be bigger next year, fear them!

  12. By clssylssy on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    Peyton, like Larry Legend, is one of the leagues all around exceptional players and good guys but he never would have lasted physically in Arizona behind our O-lines, which have been horrible in my twenty years here. It’s hard to believe that he might retire w/o a ring while Eli has two. I see it’s rumored that St.Louis may try to get him if he decides to play next season which I can’t imagine, unless Greg Williams leaves. I’ve never been a fan of Elway’s or the Bronco fans so was pretty ambivalent when he didn’t come here; didn’t think the Cards was a good fit w his neck issues but hated seeing him go to the donkeys!
    Can’t help but think football is going to be much less fun when he and Fitz decide to hang it up in a few years as it seems that mold has been broken!

  13. By Scott H on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    I love Peyton Manning as a person and player but…no regrets that he never came here. And, yes, it’s easy to say that now after the arrival of Carson Palmer.

    But here is one thing that occurs to me. Manning is a GREAT QB in any era, period. But for his first few years in Denver, he did benefit from playing two games a year against a pretty weak to average division. I think that helped.

    But even after all the crazy numbers he put up in the regular season games, he was just STEAM-ROLLED by the Seahawks in that Super Bowl. Would we have seen the same if those same Seahawks had met the Cardinals with Peyton Manning in a playoff game? I wonder. I believe Manning would have gotten us there. But I wonder if the Seahawks would have done to us what they did to the Broncos in the SB.

  14. By erik on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    Our O-Line did not kill Kolb. Kolb had no concept of a pocket. He would roll to his right seemingly every pass play, giving the O-Line not much of a chance. QBs like Manning or even Palmer make an O-Line look better because they understand how to use the pocket. So don’t blame Kolb’s failure on that.

  15. By D on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    Question for you Darren-

    Chances are Mr. Peyton will retire after Sunday’s game and free up tons of cap space for Denver so they can afford a franchised V. Miller and offer Brock O a nice contract.

    But, a good chance Brock will hit the FA market due to the Tag being used for Miller but most likely would want starter contract $.

    Would Mr. Keim and BA be interested in going after him to say backup Palmer for a year and look to as a future QB? I know his resume is thin, but he would be a young available QB that appears to fit BA’s type of player. He wouldn’t cost a draft pick aka Glennon and with the draft being thin on QB’s this year, I would think AZ would have to kick the tires…?

    (assuming AZ extends C. Campbell and M. Floyd to free up more Cap space)

  16. By Darren Urban on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Brock

    I love how we write Brock so we don’t have to look up how to spell his last name.

    Kicking tires to me is about a vet on the street. Osweiler isn’t that. Would you look at it? Sure, but for the money he’ll want, I don’t see how a team affords it — especially since the Cards right now see Palmer as a starter at least a couple more seasons.

  17. By Scott H on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    From a purely physical standpoint, Palmer looks like he has 2-3 more years of playing at a very high level. But – and if you know me, you know I’m gonna bring this up – I think Fitz is critical to Palmer continuing to play at the level he has. Fitz is CLEARLY the guy he trusts the most. And why shouldn’t he??? As of this moment, Fitz is STILL the best WR on this team. In the estimation of many, the Cardinals have the best group of WR’s in the league. But I guarantee you – take Fitz out of the picture, and most people would down-grade our WR corps considerably.

    Fitz remains a vital part of this offense. And I think Palmer is the best he can be with Fitz in the picture.

  18. By TucsonTim on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    If only…

    Can you imagine Fitz’s stats

  19. By JohnnyBluenose on Feb 3, 2016 | Reply

    Clssylyssy…..Peyton already has a ring.

  20. By dan on Feb 4, 2016 | Reply

    Paxton Lynch?

  21. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 4, 2016 | Reply

    Reading about how BA is teeing off and is a decent golfer.

    I know Whiz was a very good golfer.

    But, since you have been covering the team, if you were going to pick a foursome of cards/coaches, to win a best ball, who would you take? (past or present)

  22. By Darren Urban on Feb 4, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Golf

    To begin with, I am most certainly NOT a golfer, so I’m probably not the best to judge.

    But it’s hard to go wrong with special teamers. Mike Leach is pretty good (so I hear). Whiz was good. Fitz plays a lot of golf. Jay Feely was good.

  23. By clssylssy on Feb 4, 2016 | Reply

    I don’t know why, with the QB pool being so shallow,Denver would give up Osweiller, who they have been grooming behind Mannning, has good command of their system,and has been acknowledged as more “Kubiak’s kind of QB” than Manning. He did a good job stepping in for Manning and was accepted and respected by his teammates. Unless he wants out of Denver, I can’t see anyway Elway will let his centerpiece go even if they have to give him a King’s ransom contract and make adjustments other places. Even though I’m not an Elway fan,I will acknowledge his savy of the NFL and ways of dealing and manipulating the Cap. He has an advantage with players as being one of them and an icon many of them grew up watching.
    Sitting at number 29 in draft order, I don’t see anyway we are going to find our franchise QB in this group who won’t be another project that will end up getting cut. We do need to be looking ahead but we also need to proceed with caution and while Stanton isn’t getting any younger either, he has been good insurance and may be better than the alternative. The league no longer affords much for developmental projects,especially with QBs when many rosters only carry two.

  24. By Andy Kw on Feb 4, 2016 | Reply

    The New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl in the 2009 season.The Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl in 2013 season, the Carolina Panthers probably has the best chance to win SB50 for the first time in franchise history. Do you know why these team were able to do it? It’s because they have franchise QBs. Drew Brees brought the team to the SB in his prime. Russell Wilson and Cam Newton are franchise QBs their respective teams drafted. Now, we have Carson Palmer. A guy who has dealt with issues in how he plays in the playoffs his entire career. Wilson, Newton, and Brees don’t have post season jitters. They play like it is just another regular season game, taking it one step at a time. For Palmer, you want to know why he threw so many INTs? The moment he called the plays in the playoffs, he only had one target in mind to begin with. John Brown double coverage twice, and guess what, he did the same thing in the regular season in Pittsburgh & at home vs the Rams. Let’s throw it to John Brown while he is double covered. Picked off by Janoris Jenkins, Picked off by DB Ross Cockrell. Picked off by Kurt Coleman twice. 3 losses that were defined by pretty much one play. Palmer throws the ball in double coverage to John Brown. Loss to Rams, Steelers, and the most important game Panthers.

  25. By Scott H on Feb 4, 2016 | Reply

    Andy KW –

    A thought-provoking post there, that is for sure. Look, I love Palmer and I believe he is a damn good QB. But that said, I HAVE had a hard time getting past some of the throws he made at key moments in some games. And, finger problems or not, it seems like SOMETHING has to be identified as the reason he was so bad over the last month of the season.

    Am I the only one who feels that way???

    I think it is fair to say that 2015 was a season during which nothing was impossible for this team BECAUSE of how good Palmer was. And at the same time, it may have all collapsed at the end because of…well, because of how bad he was. How do you explain it? I don’t know. How can you ever explain how great a player can be one week and how “off” he can be the next.

    Look at the game against Seattle ( in Seattle, of course ). He was brilliant.

    Then the game against Pittsburgh. Not so much.

    Look at the game against Cincy. Brilliant again ( after a shaky start during which he threw 2 INT’s that could only make you wonder WTH??? ). Look at the throws he made on that last drive. SO clutch. Three straight completions ( 20 yards each ) that had us in FG range before the Bengals knew what hit them.

    Then the games against Cleveland ( in the first half, anyway ) and against San Fran. The same QB? Hardly seemed like it.

    I think the amazing regular season numbers and all the wins masked some in-consistency with Palmer that…is just hard to explain.

    Everyone is saying the finger wasn’t an issue. OK. But look at his numbers before the finger injury on 12/20, then look at the numbers since. They were drastically different. So…if you’re gonna tell me it wasn’t the finger, fine. But tell me what it WAS. Because something definitely changed about how he was performing right around that time. And it seemed like it was mental AND physical.

  26. By clssylssy on Feb 4, 2016 | Reply

    @Johnny…yep, totally forgot about the Colts and Bears in 2007, must have been a great party!

  27. By John The Draft Guy on Feb 5, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H and Andy KW,

    Yes Palmer played poorly in the playoffs. I don’t think anyone can deny that. Reasons for it?? Could the pack and panthers just be good at showing one look and then moving into another?

    The biggest issue I see with Palmer is that sometimes, he will come to the line with the receiver he is going to throw to already made up. Then, when there isn’t a window, he will try to force it. It does seem to be going to John Brown most of the time on these plays (ints) too.

    But he also set records this year for the cards and is the reason we were 14-4. So, I guess we can say, our QB is not perfect, but he is pretty darn good. Our QB struggles with a couple issues, but can play lights out most of the time.

    That Panther game, Floyd was taken out by Norman. Fitz seemed to have someone under and over. And the Panthers kept a high safety for the deep pass. Palmer struggled to find open guys and forced things. He and BA will go back to the drawing board and figure this out and he will be back.

  28. By Scott H on Feb 6, 2016 | Reply

    And to be fair, the loss in the NFC title game was not all on Palmer. Our defense was terrible. The thing is – and I said this before that game – our defense was NOT going to win that game for us. I saw the Panthers being able to move the ball and score, probably in the 30-32 point range that was pretty much automatic for them. I believed we were only going to win that game by keeping pace with them by scoring enough points of our own. In short, it was on the offense – and basically on Carson Palmer – to win that game.

    Didn’t happen. So, if it ever sounds like I put the blame on Palmer, that is why. I believed HE was going to have to be good enough to overcome the Panthers because I knew our defense was not going to. I looked at the games we won against Seattle and Cincy ( games where our defense allowed a lot of points but Palmer and the offense just couldn’t be stopped ) and said that is exactly how we are going to have to win this one, too.

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