Indy is not much with Peyton. They were the worst team in the league last year, and even if Manning comes back playing at the level he was at in 2009, it’s implausible in the extreme that he takes them to a championship – best case scenario, they get back to 9 or 10 wins, and get a wild-card berth. Big whoop.
And after that, it gets worse; in 2013, Manning will be 37. For reference:
Marino: Last good season at 35.
Fouts: Last good season at 34.
Unitas: Last good season at 34.
Aikman: Last good season at 33.
Favre: Six seasons after age 35; only good in two of them.
Montana: Had a good season at 38, then retired.
Elway: Had a good season at 38, then retired.
Mind you, in all of the above “good season” just means above-average. Almost none of those guys were producing at a top level when they were over 36. It’s possible that Manning will come right back at his top form, and then hold it until he’s 39 or 40 … but if he does, it’ll be something that’s never been done before.
History tells us first-round QBs are basically 50/50 propositions; if Luck has even a 1 in 4 chance of being the kind of franchise QB that all the scouts see, it’s still a better proposition than the odds of getting more than maybe 2-3 decent seasons out of Manning.