The Indianapolis Colts are rumored to be making a giant splash in the offseason, bringing back Peyton Manning to serve as the team’s general manager and getting an equally big name to be the next head coach: Jon Gruden.
With the Colts headed to a long offseason without a sniff of the playoffs in what should have been a competitive AFC South, the team is reportedly ready to move on from head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson and go in an entirely new direction.
As CBS Sports noted, the rumors about Peyton Manning returning to the Indianapolis Colts started through a discussion between sports columnist Bob Kravitz and host John Michael Vincent on 1070 The Fan. When the discussion turned to the future of the Colts, Kravitz gave what appeared to be some insight on whether team owner Jim Irsay wanted to bring Peyton Manning back to the franchise.
“I think a whole lot,” Kravitz answered about the team’s interest in bringing back Manning. “And again, let me preface this by saying I don’t know for sure. But it would not shock me if Peyton Manning came back on the white horse. It wouldn’t shock me to find out later on down the line that Jim has been putting the full court press on him. Yeah, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least, because that’s one of the things that’s come across my desk.”
Kravitz later added that the Indianapolis Colts could also be interested in trying to lure Jon Gruden out of the ESPN booth and back to the sidelines, serving as the team’s next head coach. Kravitz pointed out that Gruden “has made it very, very clear that the one quarterback he’d be interested in coming back for is Andrew Luck.”
It could take a lot financially to lure Gruden away from ESPN, where he is the network’s highest-paid employee.
While the rumors that the Indianapolis Colts are bringing back Peyton Manning and making a run at Jon Gruden may not be based on any reports from inside the organization, there is some solid evidence that Jim Irsay may be working toward a reunion with Manning. There are reports that Irsay met with Tom Condon, Manning’s agent during his playing career.
Got sources telling me that Jim Irsay had dinner this evening with agent Tom Condon. Condon was P. Manning's agent during playing career.
— Brad Wells (@BradWellsNFL) December 30, 2016
The rumors about Peyton Manning returning to the Indianapolis Colts have been floating around for much longer than that, however. As his career was coming to a close with an injury-plagued 2015 season that ended with a return in the playoffs and eventually a Super Bowl victory, Manning’s post-playing career with the subject of much speculation.
Bill Polian, the former president of the Indianapolis Colts who spent more than a decade working with Manning, said the future Hall of Fame quarterback would be ready to immediately step into a general manager role.
“During our 14 years together in Indianapolis, he would often discuss with me prospects coming out in the draft, SEC players he’d seen, players he’d seen in other parts of the country,” Polian said before the Super Bowl last year, via the Indianapolis Star. “He pays close attention to the rosters of the other (teams) in the league, with specific attention to the AFC.”
“He knew the strengths and weaknesses of every player on every defense in the AFC and many on offense, because he met them and got to know them at the Pro Bowl and soaked up information. He is a football nerd, as am I. He’s more than prepared to do that job.”
Fans may soon find out if the rumors about Peyton Manning returning to the Indianapolis Colts — and bringing on Jon Gruden as head coach — hold any truth. If the Colts do decide to fire Chuck Pagano and move in a new direction, it’s likely to happen in the coming week, following the team’s final game.
[Featured Image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]