Peyton Manning was in the last year of his career when he nearly became Dan Marino’s replacement with the Miami Dolphins, but Jimmy Johnson and the Dolphins decided against a wild predraft trade.
Peyton Manning was considered to be the next Dan Marino, but Jimmy Johnson and the Dolphins decided against a wild predraft trade.
Peyton Manning is without a doubt the most influential figure in Indianapolis Colts history. The Colts had only reached the playoffs three times since relocating to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984 until selecting him in 1998. Indiana was also a well-known basketball-playing state. Manning, on the other hand, helped the Colts become an NFL powerhouse, and as a result, the team’s fan base became one of the most fervent in the league.
But what if Manning had signed with a completely different team in 1998? Manning nearly became a member of the Miami Dolphins, according to reports.
Dan Marino was an elderly quarterback for the Miami Dolphins.
Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins in action against the Indianapolis Colts. | Rhona Wise/AFP via Getty Images
The Dolphins had a good season in 1997, finishing 9-7 overall and making the playoffs before the 1998 NFL Draft. Their head coach was the famous Jimmy Johnson, and they had Dan Marino, one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.
Marino had already accomplished a lot up to that point, leading the NFL in passing yards five times and passing touchdowns three times. In addition to becoming a nine-time Pro Bowler, he also earned the league’s MVP award in 1984.
However, Marino, a 36-year-old quarterback at the time, was nearing the conclusion of his career. In 1997, he passed for 3,780 yards and 16 touchdowns, his fewest TD passes in a season in which he played 12 or more games.
Since he only had a few years remaining on his contract, finding a successor for him after the 1997 season should have been a priority for Miami.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, are said to have turned down the chance.
Before the 1998 draft, the Dolphins opted not to trade for Peyton Manning.
On Feb. 11, 2005, Peyton Manning (left) and Dan Marino competed in the NFL Pro Bowl Skills Challenge. | Getty Images/Kirby Lee
Jimmy Johnson was renowned for making spectacular deals, particularly while he was with the Dallas Cowboys, when his moves contributed to him winning two Super Bowls.
Johnson, though, stated in a recent interview with Dan Le Batard that he regretted not pulling one for Peyton Manning before the 1998 NFL Draft.
On the August 10 edition of The Dan Le Batard Show With Stu Gotz, Johnson stated, “It would have taken my whole draft board, but I could’ve made a deal to move up to acquire Peyton Manning.” “In fact, this weekend (at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony), I spoke to Peyton and Archie [Manning] about it.”
Johnson wouldn’t go into detail about why he didn’t accept the offer or what the Colts were asking for, but the fact remains that the Dolphins passed on it.
Their refusal to trade for one of the greatest quarterbacks in history altered the trajectory of both Miami and Indianapolis’ histories.
On the Colts, Peyton Manning became a legend, while the Dolphins have been without a quarterback for years.
The Colts’ decision to keep Peyton Manning, who has a record five NFL MVPs and is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, paid off. Between 1999 and 2010, they made the playoffs nine times in a row and 11 times in a row. They also appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one of them.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, have been kicking themselves for almost two decades for not trading for him. From 1998 through 2001, Miami reached the playoffs four times, but couldn’t identify a franchise quarterback for years after that. Since Marino departed following the 1999 season, the Dolphins have had 22 starting quarterbacks, resulting in just two playoff appearances since 2002.
It’s difficult to say how the NFL landscape might look right now if Johnson and the Dolphins had hammered out a deal with the Colts. Would Miami be a powerhouse in the league? Given their relocation from Baltimore and absence of a fan base prior to 1998, would the Colts be in a completely different city?
It’s difficult to say for sure. But one thing is certain: if Johnson and Miami had pulled off that crazy deal before the 1998 NFL Draft, NFL history would have been quite different.
Pro Football Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: Peyton Manning Earned $248.73 Million in the NFL and Is Now Part of a Team With Bill Gates That Could Help Change Sporting Events as We Know Them
- dan marino net worth