As the Indianapolis Colts keep struggling through the 2011 season with quarterback Curtis Painter under center, the likelihood that the team will earn the No. 1 pick in the draft increases each Sunday. With the consensus choice for that pick being Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts must ask some tough questions about Peyton Manning's future with the team.
Whether they like it or not, the winless Colts, along with the Rams and Dolphins, are certainly involved in the "Suck For Luck" sweepstakes at 0-7. If Indianapolis were to land the No. 1 pick in the draft, it's quite obvious what kind of dilemma the team would face having both Manning and the chance to grab arguably one of the best quarterback prospects in a decade.
Tony Dungy, current NBC analyst and former Colts coach, told Dan Patrick on his radio show what he would do in such a dilemma and you might be surprised by his response.
(Click HERE to listen to the full segment)
Dungy said the Colts should take Luck if they had the first pick and talked about how devastating it was for the Pittsburgh Steelers when they passed on Dan Marino because they had Terry Bradshaw at the time. When asked how Manning would handle it, Dungy raised the possibility of trading the star quarterback.
"I would see [Peyton] competing and playing as long as he wanted. And if it gets to the point to where, hey, he comes back and it looks like he's gonna play three or four more years, and you say, 'We've got Andrew Luck, we've got an asset, we trade him," Dungy explained. "Obviously, this Carson Palmer trade. It tells you, if you do have a good quarterback, what you can get for him. So I think that asset is too much to pass up, even if your quarterback wasn't all that happy about it."
He may have a point, considering the Cincinnati Bengals reeled in a first round draft pick and a second rounder (which could turn into a first) from the Oakland Raiders for Carson Palmer. The former Hesiman Trophy winner hasn't reached the Pro Bowl since 2006 and led the Bengals to a 4-12 record in 2010. If Palmer could yield such a bounty, just imagine what Manning could bring the Colts if traded.
Even though Peyton said he still hopes to return later in the 2011 season, it's difficult to imagine letting him play if the Colts only have one or two wins (if that). It doesn't get much easier for Indianapolis, with games against Atlanta, Baltimore and New England.
Manning has already shrugged off talk about the team drafting Andrew Luck. But if the Colts continue to lose, the Manning-Luck dilemma will surely be a weekly discussion topic.