The Peyton Manning sweepstakes of 2012 is now officially on, with speculation and rumors running rampant about the most likely destinations for the future Hall of Fame quarterback, assuming he proves healthy in his current rehab attempt – which it seems like he is.
This post will help you sift through the Peyton Manning rumors and figure out which ones have legs and which ones are essentially just mud being thrown up against the wall.
Every fan in every market who cheers for a team for whom a vintage Manning would be better than whoever that team may have under center currently will ask the question; this post helps handicap the answer.
As of yesterday, according to ESPN, 12 teams had reportedly contacted Manning’s camp. These teams include Seattle, Miami, Arizona, Kansas City, and Denver, among others. Maybe Peyton chooses one of these teams; maybe he ultimately shocks everyone by choosing a team currently not on the radar.
To cover all bases I’ll just handicap all 32 teams, starting out with
Extremely Remote Chance
Let’s say Jim Irsay gets floored by an insane Mike Ditka/Ricky Williams-like offer for the #1 overall pick while Manning proves healthy in the coming weeks. Even then I wouldn’t see the two parties crawling back.
This divorce is final.
These are teams that obviously already have franchise QBs, and Drew Brees has the franchise tag, so I assume he remains in New Orleans.
The only way any of these teams would have an interest is if say Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers were to be hit by a bus in the next month.
Next To No Chance
Some of the current quarterbacks on this list get maligned to some extent. You can argue that a Peyton Manning who returns to vintage form could be an upgrade over a Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, or Jay Cutler, but the risk wouldn’t be worth uprooting what these teams have now.
Square Peg, Round Hole
Buffalo definitely has a need, but it’s like me trying to land a date with Kate Upton; it’s not a match. If the Bills really want to upgrade quarterback, it would be better addressed either by taking a chance on someone in the draft or chasing Matt Flynn.
Brad Childress was recently hired as offensive coordinator. He’s probably busy placing calls to Kiln, Mississippi trying to bring you-know-who and his walker back into the NFL for yet another comeback.
Another team in which Manning is out of their league, but I’ll reveal my little two-pronged scenario that would be a godsend (literally) to the organization’s ticket sales/marketing later on.
You don’t kill the Christian Ponder experiment after one year – plus Peyton doesn’t have an interest in a team coming off 3-13.
If they want to kill off the Sam Bradford project, they simply trade him and take either Luck/RGIII with the second overall pick.
Maybe Pete Carroll can make the recruiting pitch, but two other NFC West locales would make much better sense. Seattle would stand a better chance being in the mix for Matt Flynn.
Josh Freeman was a disaster in 2011, but the new regime has to give him one more year I feel – unless the team wants to trade up and go after Luck or Robert Griffin.
Not As Crazy As It Sounds
Ask the question: do you think Michael Vick will lead the team to a championship in the limited time he has left?
Here is one article that legitimately asks about the Eagles as a potential suitor, asking how many times does an organization get a chance at a player of Manning’s resume. Philadelphia showed they were going for it with last year’s class of free agents.
Abruptly dumping Vick to the curb for Manning isn’t all that crazy – and you know there won’t be any character issues. The Philadelphia article also notes O-line coach Howard Mudd spent a decade with Manning in Indianapolis. The only sticking point is Philly being in same division as Eli.
Out of desperation the Raiders scratched off a Carson Palmer lottery ticket in the middle of last season, and they shouldn’t had wasted their time. It ended up costing Hue Jackson his job. Swinging for the fence at this pitch would actually be worth it.
At first glance Peyton doesn’t seem to fit the Raider profile, but as Al Davis would say – GO VERTICAL!!!!! And Manning would have a chance to win immediately in the AFC West.
Can you go home again?
Actually people this way are waiting for Manning to retire so he can be named the University of Tennessee coach, now. But Manning as the Titans QB also makes sense, as the team wasn’t bad (9-7) last year. And Manning sounds a lot better than fossil Matt Hasselbeck or raw Jake Locker.
The official company line out of Tennessee currently is that the Titans are currently happy with their current QB situation. Yeah, right.
The Prime Candidates
Personally, I don’t see Manning taking his talents to South Beach, even with Dan Marino supposedly in on the recruiting effort. Even with Peyton, the Dolphins still have too many holes to be a legit contender in the next couple of years.
I still think Matt Flynn ultimately re-unites with new HC Joe Philbin.
If you remember the Eli Manning rebuff on the San Diego Chargers from the 2004 Draft, the Manning clan is especially choosy with the organization that Archie’s kids consider. I think KC is one of those teams that is just a little too dysfunctional in the front office for Peyton Manning’s liking.
But who knows what is actually going on behind those secretive shades and immense security over at Chiefs headquarters…
Dan Snyder keeps swinging for the fence, so the Skins are definitely a possibility. But this is another organization that might not pass the Manning’s eyeball test, plus being in the NFC East would mean Peyton/Eli circus twice a year.
Would Peyton want to set up shop across the street from his bro in the Meadowlands? That’s why I ultimately think Manning does not end up with the Jets, but this franchise has been looking for an elite QB seemingly since Joe Namath left town, and they were desperate enough to roll the dice with Favre a few years back.
Not that Matt Schaub is bad, but Houston is not far off now from contention and would never want to risk going into the playoffs with T.J. Yates again. Manning would definitely be the missing link, but would he be comfortable suddenly playing against the Colts twice a year? I don’t think he would relish that role like Favre did for two years playing the Packers.
I see Elway going for it.
And about Tebow? Skip Bayless sounded crazy mentioning the possibility during the NFL playoffs (when the Broncos were supposedly giving Brady Quinn reps in practice), but trading Tebow is also a possibility. If the Broncos land Manning, they then simply deal Tebow to Jacksonville. Tebow returns home, and the Jaguars sell out their home dates for the next couple of years.
This makes sense on a number of levels, as Peyton will have a number of nice offensive weapons in place. I can definitely see Peyton and Larry Fitzgerald, in particular, as a perfect marriage.
The Cards have had a gaping hole behind center since Kurt Warner left. Inking #18 would ensure the rest of Fitzgerald’s career doesn’t go to waste.
If Peyton really wants a title, San Francisco makes the most sense considering how close the Niners came last year. The punt returner got the blame, but the fact is Alex Smith is good, just not Joe Montana/Steve Young good.
The risk for the 49ers making a play on Manning is if they swing and miss, then Alex Smith would probably demand a trade out of town. Also, could a Manning/Jim Harbaugh mix really work? There is risk here.
Of course there is a 33rd possibility: Manning has more setbacks and ultimately retires. That is a very real possibility. But assuming that does not happen…
Peyton Manning Free Agency Prediction:
TOP FIVE MANNING LANDING SPOTS
BEST ‘OFF THE BOARD’ POSSIBILITIES
Where do you think Peyton Manning will end up?