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Colts Fire Jim Caldwell, Is Peyton Manning Next To Be Let Go?

My Twitter timeline was set ablaze Tuesday afternoon with news that the Indianapolis Colts had fired head coach Jim Caldwell after three seasons. There naturally had been discussion of it happening, considering the 2-14 record and the general ineptitude the team showed for much of the season.

However, the Caldwell firing really means nothing to fans of the Arizona Cardinals, unless another name comes into the conversation -- quarterback Peyton Manning.

With Caldwell now gone, things have to be strange for Manning. Colts owner Jim Irsay fired the general manager Bill Polian, who is very close to Manning. Caldwell is also very close to Manning. It was when Caldwell became Indy's QB coach when Manning had his meteoric rise to superstar.

Now both of the guys closest to Manning are out.

This has to be some pretty clear writing on the wall, right?

There are a few explanations for the change in direction for the team.

For one, it could mean that it is the simple precursor to Manning being cut, regardless of health. Manning's "guys" are gone, Andrew Luck is going to be drafted and it is time to just move on, especially with the price tag on the 2012 salary cap. There is a new GM, so it is time for a new coach and new offensive philosophy, one that will protect Luck and allow for his development.

A less cynical view could be that by removing the guys closest to Manning, the team is putting itself in a situation to make a decision in which personal feelings don't get in the way. (No, I don't really believe that one.)

A more ambiguous thought is that the team really has no idea at all whether Manning will be healthy enough to play. The already saw what the Peyton Manning offense looks like with Peyton and want to shake things up accordingly so that a different quarterback would have some semblance of a chance for success. In this scenario, if Manning is healthy, he comes back and he runs the offense the way he does (because he really doesn't need a coach, does he?)

Yet another possibility is that there is no plan at all to cut Peyton, but the team is beginning to transition from Peyton to Andrew Luck. The new coach would be a guy that could work well with Manning, yet work with and develop Luck for a year or maybe two before he is given the reins.

Personally, I think it points to the clear departure of Manning, which means that he will be available to pursue at any time before March 8 (when his bonus is set to kick in).

The Cardinals could make a run at him.

We know that what Charley Casserly said was simple speculation and his thinking, but the team could take a look if Manning is indeed healthy. There is still no information or even reason to believe that Arizona is interested or would be should Manning get released, but at least now it could look to some (like me) that it is more and more likely that Manning will hit the market.

What do you think? Do you think that the Caldwell firing changes anything regarding the Colts' plan for Manning? Does this change anything for the Cardinals and the mere thought of Manning in Cardinal red?

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