Good Morning, Broncos fans! Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning held an emotional news conference yesterday to bid each other a public adieu. Irsay says the Colts will retire Manning's #18, and of course, Peyton says he still wants to play and is approaching full health.
Where will he end up? According to Adam Schefter, 12 teams have already contacted Manning's representatives at CAA. As we noted yesterday, Washington and Seattle are very interested in pursuing the QB, while Arizona, San Francisco, Kansas City, Houston, Miami, and the Jets have all been rumored to be in on Peyton. Last night, it was reported that some team in the Mountain West is serious about going after Manning despite already having a guy who sells a lot of jerseys and tickets.
Oh yeah, your Denver Broncos. Nah, they have no chance as Mike Klis tells it, after changing his report on Denver's apparent interest eleventy times yesterday. Why would Manning want to go to Denver? Doesn't he want to join a team closer to SB contention? The Broncos' offensive line suck elephant balls, no? We've already been told countless times that Denver's receivers are terrible. Would Manning want to play for John Fox, who hates to throw the ball, and why would Pat Bowlen spend the cash, as Mark Kiszla wonders? Besides, Tebow and Manning are represented by the same agents as super sleuth Woody Paige has discovered, or read yesterday afternoon on Mike Florio's blog. Denver is obviously the longest shot of all those teams, amirite?
But as Tony Dungy tells it, there's no way the soon-to-be 36-year-old will head to the NFC East to compete with his brother Eli for division titles and head-to-head matchups twice yearly. Marshall Faulk went a step further in saying Manning would not sign with any NFC team at all, because as Faulk tells it, the two brothers wouldn't want to meet on the field until the Super Bowl. What if Dungy and Faulk are right, and the Skins, Cardinals, Seahawks, and Niners have no shot at Peyton? Then what?
That would likely leave the Texans, Chiefs, Dolphins, Jets, as options. Let's examine the supposed reasons why Peyton would obviously want to go anywhere but Denver:
- SB contender Obviously, the Texans already are one. But John McClain says Kubes & Co. are not interested, and Matt Schaub is firmly entrenched in Houston. Cross them off the list. Are the Chiefs and Dolphins - who both fired their coaches last season - any closer to contention than the Broncos? Is that really the angle we're taking here? What about the Jets? Sharing New York with Eli, is this something Peyton would seek out, or would he prefer to avoid it? No clue, but that has to be a consideration. What would the team do with Mark Sanchez? Does Peyton want to go to a team that faces the Patriots twice a year and competes with them for division titles? Or would he prefer a team in the worst division in football (in 2011)?
- Protection Yes, Denver's offensive line struggled to protect its quarterbacks last year (42 sacks). Is that so much worse than the Jets (40), Chiefs (34), or Dolphins (52) fared? Let's also keep in mind that Indy's line has been pretty awful for several years now, yet Manning took only 40 sacks in total from 2008 to 2010. Post-Manning, the Colts gave up 35 sacks in 2011. Want to tell us that Peyton's lightning-quick decisions and release wouldn't make Denver's line look a whole lot better than the scrambling, indecisive Tebow made it appear in 2011?
Receiver Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker dropped their share of passes last season. But, they also had one of the most inaccurate QBs in the history of the sport throwing it
to at themin their general direction. Plus, talk has been that Manning and Reggie Wayne are going to be a package deal. How open can Thomas get facing #2 cornerbacks, and Decker out of the slot, if the team also landed Wayne? What if they were to sign Manning and Mike Wallace, sending their #25 pick to Pittsburgh?
- Foxball The CBS4 report notes that Manning "has a good relationship" with both Johns Fox and Elway. Anyone who thinks John Fox, who has never had a QB better than Jake Delhomme, would tell John Elway and Peyton Manning that he wants to run the ball 55% of the time, please raise your hands.
- $$$$$ We've heard and read over and again how much cap space the Broncos have. Now that the best player ever to hit free agency is available, the team will be gun shy? Will Peyton's neck give Bowlen and Elway pause? Definitely a possibility.
- Agents There is no more ridiculous reason for Denver not to sign Manning than this one. It's a joke. That Jimmy Sexton works for Tom Condon's firm is a legitimate reason for Manning not to go to Denver? It's not even worth parsing, to be honest. So, we won't.
- It's been said that whoever signs Peyton will have to scrap their offensive system and copy what the Colts had done with Manning. Is any team a better candidate for such a schematic overhaul, and is there a more willing coordinator than Mike McCoy to humbly submit to not running the offense he's always dreamed of running? Of course not, and hell no.
- The Colts' 2011 season went a long way to showing how great Peyton is/was. If he is healthy, there's every reason to think he will have that same all-ships-rise effect on whatever team he signs with. The offensive line gets to protect a guy who they know will get the ball out quickly, receivers know exactly where the ball will be and when, and the defense gets to play with a lead and rush the opposing passer.
- If Manning goes to Miami, that would eliminate the Dolphins as the most likely landing spot for Matt Flynn. If somehow Houston were to jump in, that makes Matt Schaub available.
- Of course, Dungy and Faulk could be wrong, and then Washington, Seattle, Arizona, and San Francisco are options.
- As I've written here before, I think Peyton is crazy not to retire, due to his neck issues. But it's his decision, and if he's going to play in 2012, why not Denver?
Don Banks says Irsay and Manning closed their chapter together in fine fashion yesterday.
Andrew Brandt figures Washington and Miami to be the frontrunners.
Ben Stockwell and Eric Edholm look at each possible destination but both think Denver is a longshot; Bill Barnwell doesn't even consider them an option; Mike Tanier considers the implications of a Manning signing for all 32 teams.
Dave Krieger thinks the Broncos should pursue Peyton.
Jeff Legwold says RG3 is not a realistic target for Denver.
Oakland has reportedly restructured the contracts of DT Richard Seymour and S Michael Huff; Jags CB Rashean Mathis and Falcons DE Kroy Biermann have re-signed with their teams; Seattle cut CB Marcus Trufant, while Giants T Kareem McKenzie and Bears QB Caleb Hanie are not expected to be re-signed; Tampa Bay placed a first-round tender on DE Michael Bennett.
The NFLPA will conduct its own investigation of the Saints' bounty system.