The Miami Dolphins say they haven’t spoken with Peyton Manning. More specifically, head coach Joe Philbin has said that. The Dolphins likely spoke with him on the plane from Indianapolis. That doesn’t mean they are front-runners or that they are middle of the pack. The Dolphins you see never say anything about anyone. It’s how they do business.
All of the NFL focus is on Peyton Manning and it really comes down to what you want to believe. Adam Schefter of ESPN says that the Dolphins chances of landing the QB is dwindling, specifically because of the media circus that swamped him when he arrived in Miami after his “I’m going to miss you Indy” farewell presser. Got news for you Schefty, that media circus would have been the same in Kansas City, Denver, Tennessee, or Seattle. It just so happens to have been Miami. Schefter also points out that the spurning of Miami by Jeff Fisher and Jim Harbaugh will sway Manning to follow suit. O.k. Whatever.
Over on ProFootballTalk.com, Mike Florio will tell you that Manning won’t sink so low as to join the Dolphins…not an exact quote. He readily maintains that Manning will either milk the Dolphins to drive up another teams offer or will use it to drive up Miami’s own offer. He also doesn’t believe that Miami would instantly become a contender with Manning. Apparently most of the other NFL teams wanting him would. That’s o.k. Whatever.
Still, as you look at the Miami Dolphins situation and their roster, it makes you wonder if the Dolphins wouldn’t be better off without Peyton Manning. They most assuredly could do much more damage in free agency without that contract hanging over their salary cap.
Manning is the best at what he does and even today some will argue that at crunch time, Manning is the best in the NFL period. In Miami you could realistically expect thousands of day 1 season tickets to be sold with thousands more coming in over the next couple of months. It’s no out of the realm of reality that every Sunday would see the stadium filled to capacity and a return to prime-time would be inevitable despite the teams 2011 record. Manning would also be a huge draw for future free agents.
There is that salary though. Whether it’s paid this year or next, it’s going to be huge. This isn’t advocating Matt Flynn by any stretch but Flynn could be had for a far more reasonable price allowing the Dolphins to go after safety Reggie Nelson or a top tier RT and maybe more depending on how the re-structure some of their players’ contracts. With Manning, it’s almost a one shot deal. You get him and then you try and add some depth. Depth not playmakers. You suddenly become prohibitive in your approach to adding players instead of aggressive. Consider that Manning himself over the course of his career in Miami could easily be the equivalent of two top tier free agents a year. Not saying Mario Williams types but not 2nd tier or tertiary afterthoughts either.
Manning will also most assuredly have a rather distinct say in the Dolphins offense and whether that turns out to be good or bad it will only be a three year project. Consider that in three years, maybe four at the most, Peyton Manning will be standing next to Jim Irsay retiring a Colt after a ceremonial contract. The Dolphins at that time, regardless of whether they went to the Super Bowl under Manning or not, will suddenly be replacing him. IN less than 5 years.
Let’s assume for a moment that the team drafts Ryan Tannehill in round1 to back-up Manning. In three years he will be ready to take the reigns of the team. The problem here is that Tannehill isn’t Peyton Manning and once Manning is gone, the Dolphins are not likely to continue running the “Manning offense”. So there will be an additional learning curve for Tannehill if/when the team suddenly switches back to the west coast style they want to run now.
There is a lot of upside to adding Manning but there is still upside for the team if Manning decides to take his talents somewhere else. It’s not the end of the world and in some cases may give Miami a better option for long term success than if they sign Manning now and ride his arm for three seasons. The funny thing is, right now, most in the media believe that Manning is the end all to the Dolphins woes…or any teams for that matter. Many Dolphins fans believe that Manning is the cure that this team desperately needs to turn the franchise around. Both believe that if Manning signs elsewhere that once again, Stephen Ross has failed and the team is a joke. The truth is, only Manning knows what Manning wants to do and the Dolphins, like the rest of them have to wait it out. You are not going to buy Peyton Manning, he doesn’t need the money.
What happens in a week when free agency starts will have as big an impact on the 2012 Miami Dolphins season as signing Peyton Manning to a contract. Why? Because Manning can’t come in to Miami or anywhere else and do it alone. He is going to need help on both sides of the ball. If he could, he would have more than one Super Bowl ring on his finger.