If Peyton Manning agrees to sign with the Dolphins, he won’t be coming alone. Since Manning’s press conference release from the Colts at high noon on Wednesday, rumors and speculation across all media outlets have been spreading out of control like wildfire. However, the one rumor about Reggie Wayne joining Manning wherever he lands does seem to hold water. After all, why wouldn’t Manning want to reunite with a guy who has caught 787 passes and 69 touchdowns from him? Furthermore, in my opinion, I think there is a third accomplice involved with this transaction. He happens to be Manning’s old partner in crime, center Jeff Saturday.
For the last 10 years I have been using the same barber to cut my hair. Is he the very best in town? Probably not, but I’m comfortable with him. I know what he is capable of doing and I don’t need to provide any instructions because he knows exactly what I like. The same could be said about Jeff Saturday. Manning is comfortable with him and has been taking snaps from his five time Pro Bowl center since 1999. They are always on the same page and they can practically finish each others’ sentences. If Manning does bring his talents to South Beach, don’t be surprised if both Wayne AND Saturday join forces with their former Commander in Chief.
I realize my opinion may seem bogus and very unrealistic, but let’s just get one thing straight here; Peyton Manning has ALL of the negotiating power at this point. Considering there are several desperate teams who are HIGHLY interested in acquiring Manning as the Dolphins, Broncos, Chiefs, Cardinals, and Seahawks, his demands will be met. If he wants both Wayne and Saturday to join him, it will be up to the GMs of these organizations to make his wishes come true. Any GM who fails to comply with his “pie-in-the-sky” demands will be out in the stadium parking lot kicking rocks. That is plain and simple.
As for Miami, they may have some issues with this. The official 2012 NFL Salary cap has not been released yet, but is projected to be between $120M – $125M. For the purpose of this article, let’s pretend it’s $122M. Currently, the Dolphins have about $112M obligated towards the cap. Fortunately for Miami, they can also carry over the $9M from last year’s cap space for 2012 acquisitions. Thus, the Dolphins would have about $19M to play with when free agency opens up next Tuesday, March 13th. Out of this $19M, the Dolphins will need to set aside roughly $5M for the rookies they select in this year’s draft. In this exact scenario, the Dolphins would have $14M to sign Manning, Wayne, and Saturday.
Considering where the Dolphins are with the salary cap, it will be extremely difficult to acquire all three. Currently, this will be hard to accomplish since the Dolphins have failed to restructure any contracts this off-season to help create more room under the cap. To be specific, LT Jake Long will be receiving roughly $12M and SS Yeremiah Bell is expected to receive about $6.2M in 2012. Both of these players were prime candidates for a contract restructure. We are just four days away from free agency and this has not occurred yet. Miami Dolphins GM, Jeff Ireland, will really be put to the test to restructure deals and possibly release players when Manning requests to have Wayne and Saturday join him in Miami.
Despite the salary cap restraints, this is certainly not an impossible scenario for Miami. Technically, this so called “pipe dream” could become reality. To make room for Saturday, they could move current center, Mike Pouncey, to right guard and have John Jerry, Vernon Carey, and Lydon Murtha battle it out for the starting right tackle position. At least in this situation one could make the argument that the Dolphins wouldn’t have to draft another offensive lineman in the first round.
If Wayne joined the team as the number two receiver, Brian Hartline would most likely get released, as well as a combination of Roberto Wallace or Marlon Moore. To make further room under the salary cap, current unrestricted free agents Paul Soliai, Kendall Langford, and Philip Merling would most likely not be retained for next year. Several other unexpected releases and last minute contract restructuring would have to occur in order to make this happen.
I realize there is more than one way to skin a cat, but I’m trying to provide just a few scenarios that could actually come to fruition if Manning does indeed sign with the Dolphins. Virtually anything is possible at this point and one should never say never. Regardless, this is not Manning’s problem and he will demand to have “his guys” join him. Ireland and the team capologist will be working overtime this weekend trying to figure out this extremely difficult salary cap puzzle. They will have to get really creative in order to make Three’s Company a possibility in Miami.