We are fresh off a season in which quarterbacks dominated like no other – they broke records and if a team had a good one, their offense were near impossible to stop.
Sure, other things have happened this off-season, wide-receiver Calvin Johnson got a monster deal from the Detroit Lions, to the tune of eight years, and worth $132m. The New Orleans Saints’ ‘bounty programme’ had some coverage. Nothing, however, would overshadow the quarterbacks.
Superbowl week was a sign of things to come as Peyton Manning was in the public eye almost as much as the event itself. He displayed his loyalty to the Indianapolis Colts, and spoke of how much he wanted to stay. The franchise had a decision to make: Manning or Andrew Luck.
The 35-year-old Manning is an 11-time Pro-Bowl selection, four-time MVP, Superbowl winner and one of the greatest to ever play the game. He was coming off neck surgery that prevented him from playing last season.
Or Luck, a 23-year-old coming out of Stanford, and arguably the best quarterback prospect to come out of college since Manning himself.
The Colts decided to blow things up and release Manning and look to the future with Luck. Every team without a franchise quarterback was immediately alert to the prospect of landing the biggest free agent name in the history of the league – even if he is in the twilight of his career.
Manning would have to wait his turn, as attention turned to Robert Griffin III. The Heisman Trophy winner was the next best prospect in the draft after Luck.
His mix of athleticism and poise in the pocket, had teams thinking of the next Cam Newton. The Washington Redskins eventually made the move and guarantees the first two picks of the draft will be Luck and Griffin, which again emphasises team’s desires to attain a quarterback.
Then the Manning sweepstakes began. Arizona, Tennessee, Miami and San Francisco all tried to recruit him. He chose the Denver Broncos, and they gave him a massive contract spanning five years and worth a staggering $96m – this for a man whose latest injury almost ended his career.
Why did Manning choose Denver?
The simple answer is John Elway. The Broncos vice-president and hall-of-fame quarterback only needed Manning to look at his career for inspiration.
Elway won two Superbowls, both after the age of 37, and Manning will hope to do something similar – now, he can do it working with the only man to have done it before.
Elway risked a lot to recruit Manning. Tim Tebow was the starter in Denver last season and he led them to a play-off win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He has one of the biggest cult followings in America and Elway risked alienating his fan-base and Tebow followers.
But it was a risk worth taking for Elway to sign one of the most naturally gifted quarterbacks ever, and for all his hard work, Tebow never looked like a true quarterback in the NFL – he completed less than half of his passes last season.
Tebow was quickly shipped to the New York Jets, where the hysteria that follows him should be expected to reach new levels.
The saying goes that you cannot win a Superbowl without a good quarterback, and teams have shown they are willing to do all they can to get their hands on their man – the Seattle Seahawks gave $26m to Matt Flynn – a player with only two starts in his career.
It is arguably the most important position in team sports across the world and teams without a good quarterback will continue their search for the next Manning, Luck or Griffin III.
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