It's true that Peyton Manning is probably one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the National Football League. I don't have anything bad to say about the man.

It's true that Peyton Manning is probably one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the National Football League. I don't have anything bad to say about the man.


Now that he is a free agent, however, I have heard people drool over even the inkling of the idea that he'll be signed by their favorite team. Miami, the New York Jets, Kansas City and the Redskins have been linked to Peyton. I've even heard New Orleans and Houston fans toy with the idea of dumping their respective quarterbacks to get Manning.


But see, I'm skeptical of building a team around Peyton Manning at this stage of his career. In fact, I think it would be foolish to give him anything more than a one-year deal this offseason.


Yes, Peyton has been one of the most durable quarterbacks of the last 30 years. Before last season, he had started every single game of every season from his debut against the Miami Dolphins in 1998. Sure, he didn't play every down every season, but when you start winning games like the Colts did, it's nice to get your backups in there once in a while.


But there are too many things that raise red flags for me. One, nobody knows how he's going to respond to this surgery. Sure, people have said that his passes look sharp in his workouts and he looks like his old self. But that's in a workout. There is a huge difference from working out and actually looking ready to go in a game.


And there's no telling how he'll actually respond to this surgery. He could get hit once by James Harrison or a comparable defensive lineman and aggravate the injury all over again. He could injure it making a hail mary pass in the final seconds. Yes, Tom Brady came back after missing close to a full season and looked just fine. But Brady was also five years younger at the time.


It's also worth mentioning that Manning will be 36 in 13 days. He's on the downside of his career and, much like any other position, at that age, it's tough to play at your highest possible level. Even the immortal Brett Favre, while he played until 41, wasn't exactly the most spectacular player in his final seasons. Kerry Collins was pretty good at 36, but then he couldn't stay healthy after that. Sure, there are exceptions (Steve Young and Dan Marino come to mind), but they're exactly that — exceptions to the rule.


There's also no telling what he'll do with another team. Manning had a special rapport with guys like Joseph Addai and Reggie Wayne (and Marvin Harrison even before him). Wayne and Harrison, for that matter, were superstars — or at least close to being ones. A team like Washington doesn't have a superstar wide receiver. Or a star running back. They have Santana Moss, but I don't know if I would put him at the same level as Wayne.


Do I think Peyton Manning still has a few more good seasons left in him? Sure I do. But, I don't think it's wise to build a franchise around him at this stage.


Then again, the NFL is moving to a two-hand touch ballet league. In a year, defensive players might not be allowed to even touch the quarterback, so Peyton might be good to play until he's 45.


Alix Kunkle is the news editor of the Leesville (La.) Daily Leader. You may contact him at news@leesvilledailyleader.com.