In the move of the decade, the Colts released their best player in team history; Peyton Manning.
This is obviously old news, but it's worth looking into what would've happened if Jim Irsay & co. never made the league-wide altering move.
Let's start from the beginning. Let me take you back to 2011, in a land where the Colts are 2-14 entering the offseason. "Suck For Luck" chantings have long been ringing throughout Lucas Oil Stadium, so the move seems imminent. The team has the No.1 pick in the 2012 draft, so nothing is stopping them.
That is except the voice in the back of Jim Irsay's mind that surely questioned the move about to go down. "Should I really be doing this?" "Will this cost me my job?"
They're legitimate fears and questions, but Irsay irgnored them, and pulled the trigger. It's so far been a great ride for fans since losing their once legendary leader. But one can't help but think, "what would have happened if Irsay re-signed Manning?"
Well, in what could have been a stunning turn of events, here's some possible scenarios and consequences of keeping Manning on board:
1. Colts Trade No.1 Pick With Browns, With No.3 Pick In The 2012 Draft, They Select RB Trent Richardson
Well, would you look at that! It looks like Richardson was always destined to be a Colt. Without the need for a QB, Richardson was the next best available player. The team didn't want to hold onto Joseph Addai, which proved smart. This move would have made perfect sense.
2. Andrew Luck, A Member Of The Cleveland Browns
I'm guessing, very unrealistically, that Mike Shanahan had too much of a man crush on RG3 to let him by. Luck joins the Browns and brings them to a 7-9 record his first year. Not too shabby.
3. The Denver Broncos Select Brandon Weeden In The Second Round Of 2012 Draft
He was technically the best available QB assuming no one had picked him up by now. We all know him as a stinker, but at the time, many teams had high expectations for Weeden. Who knows, maybe with some guidance from John Elway and John Fox, Weeden became a somewhat respectable QB. In reality, probably not. Broncos stumble to 5-11, the chants for Tim Tebow never end.
4. The Indianapolis Colts Make It To The 2013 AFC Championship
No one expected Peyton Manning to come back the way he did. He tore up NFL defenses for 16 weeks and was and MVP contender by the end of the year. Let's say he did the same thing in 2012. He took teams by surprise and was able to make it into the postseason where they had a slate of easy wins. The AFC Championship proved too much as the Colts are haulted by the Ravens who win it for Ray Lewis.
5. With The 30th Pick In The 2013 NFL Draft, The Colts select DE Datone Jones
The Colts no doubt needed a defensive end, and in the end they got one. In reality they got DE Bjoern Werner, but in a world where Manning is still a Colt, they got Jones who turned out to be a better pick up anyway.
6. With The Sixth Pick In The 2013 NFL Draft, The Broncos Select WR Tavon Austin
Wes Welker was always a possibility, but he wanted a pretty penny. The Broncos aren't short on money, but they still go with selecting the youngster Austin in the first round. Fox and Elway are in the middle or rebuilding their team and it's not going that great.
7. The Indianapolis Colts Win Super Bowl XLVIII
It could still happen. The Andrew Luck-led Colts have been impressive this year, but would they be the same with Manning at the helm? With No.18, the team could have grown together another year, and blown through the Postseason. Trent Richardson is in his second year with the team, while Reggie Wayne would be dominant as ever. T.Y. Hilton could have still landed with the team, and even if he didn't, I wouldn't doubt what this team could have been capable of.
In the end, it goes to show how one simple transaction can change the league for good. Follow me on Twitter for all sorts of NFL news, updates and predictions! (@PJbleedsgreen)