Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning knows exactly what Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan are going through.
It was 10 years ago that Manning, then 36, found himself at a crossroads. After 13 years as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, he missed the 2011 season with a neck injury. And when the Colts selected Andrew Luck with the #1 overall draft pick in 2012, Manning signed as a free agent with the Denver Broncos.
So Manning is serving as a sounding board for both QBs, aiding them as they make their transitions — Wilson to the Broncos, Ryan to the Colts.
“I’ve talked to Russell a number of times and we’ve had conversations about some of the things that helped me in my transition to a different team that I think can apply to anybody making the jump, especially after being in a place for a long time,” Manning told The Denver Post.
He said he had talked to new coach Nathaniel Hackett, too, “about some of those things, maybe some dos and don’ts that helped me and can certainly apply and Russell can hit the ground running here in his first year.”
Wilson, 33, spent 10 years at the helm of the Seattle Seahawks, who traded him and a 2022 fourth-round pick to Denver for first- and second-round picks in 2022 and ’23, a 2022 fifth-round pick and quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive end Shelby Harris. The Seahawks used a third-round pick on Wilson in the 2021 NFL Draft.
A nine-time Pro Bowl selection, Wilson led the Seahawks to a 43-8 win over Manning and the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.
The Colts haven’t been to a Super Bowl since the Manning era — he led them there twice, winning Super Bowl XLI over the Chicago Bears in 2007 — and Manning said Ryan could prove the difference on a talented Colts team.
Manning said he offered an ear to Ryan as rumors swirled that the Atlanta Falcons could trade Ryan this offseason.
“Matt was kind of like me,” Manning said. “Matt only wanted to play, probably, for the team that drafted him.”
Ryan, who turns 37 next month, was the #3 overall pick, by the Falcons in 2008, and he started 222 games over 14 seasons and won the league MVP award in 2016. Atlanta sent him to the Colts for a 2022 third-round draft pick.
“I’m excited about it,” Manning told IndyStar of Ryan’s trade to the Colts and his chance to play for coach Frank Reich.
“I told him how much he is going to enjoy playing there.” Manning said. “It’s a great opportunity for Matt and I’m also very excited for the Colts. Frank is a coach that is going to fit very well with Matt.”
The late-career move turned out just fine for Manning. With the Broncos, he won a Super Bowl and a league MVP award in four seasons there.