Yes, in less than a week the free agent season will open up with a plethora of movement and yes here we are still talking about Peyton Manning. Why? Simple, as I have stated over and over again, the Dolphins will not do anything until Peyton Manning is signed to a contract. Either here or somewhere else. It’s a dangerous game that could play out beyond the March 13th free agent start and leave the Dolphins holding nothing more than a can of Red Bull.
According to multiple reports last evening, 12 of the 32 teams have contacted Manning’s agent and inquired about his interest in them. The response? Likely a “he is interested in everyone right now”. It would make sense because the more interest others have the more money Peyton makes. The issue here really lies with Manning’s health. He needs to work out for prospective teams and there is some belief that he is not close enough to where he wants to be to get the best contract. So the workouts could be delayed and if they are that could put teams at a free agent disadvantage. Physically, he can schedule med physicals any time as he will likely be cleared by every physician.
As of this morning, there are really three major players in the Manning sweepstakes and two more who are on the outside looking in. Denver is going to make a big push and John Elway will have some pull in that area. However, it was Elway who shunned the Colts when he was drafted, could Manning look at that and say no thanks? Not likely, his brother did the same to San Diego. What I do wonder though is can his shoulder bear the winter weather and altitude of Mile High? My knees ache when a storm is coming what will his shoulder do?
In Seattle, the Seahawks apparently are willing to spend whatever it takes to get it done. They have the support and the cap space. The real competition for Miami however seems to be the Arizona Cardinals who will owe Kevin Kolb more than 7 million on March 17th as roster bonus. They are making a full court press for Manning and a report this AM says that Manning’s camp has reached out to the Cardinals to gauge their real interest.
Of course all of this has been going on for less than 24 hours and there is no reason to truly believe that Manning has reached out to anyone. The NY Jets and Washington are also interested but both teams pose major obstacles for Manning. Washington would face his brother Eli twice a season and that isn’t likely and NY is really a joke right now.
Manning is in Miami as I write this. He arrived yesterday on a private plane as soon as his presser with the Colts ended. No, he isn’t meeting with the Dolphins, he owns a condo on Southbeach. Not to say he won’t make the Dolphins his first official stop. The question really is when will Manning begin his league tour and how long will he drag it out. It would make sense for Manning to get a deal done or at the very least choose a team prior to the start of free agency to allow his new team the ability to target free agent support staff.
Let’s face it, none of the teams seeking Manning are without holes and question marks. If they were, they likely wouldn’t be targeting Manning.
As this moves forward, and time ticks by, the Dolphins apparently will wait it out. Jason Cole of Yahoo sports reveals that the Dolphins have shown absolutely zero interest in Green Bay Packer QB Matt Flynn. Well to say the least they can’t. They expressly forbidden to mention another teams QB and to be honest, they never publicly admitted to have any interest in Manning either. The Dolphins keep things locked down to avoid tampering issues. All of this “Stephen Ross loves Manning” stuff doesn’t come from Stephen Ross, it comes from some source who apparently has intimate knowledge of the situation. Supposedly.
Manning will be operating on his own timetable with this and rumors are going to circulate that he is going here or there and that this team or that team is the front runner and it really means nothing at this point. The only rumor that seems to be somewhat substantial is the one that says Manning and Reggie Wayne are a package deal. Wayne spoke yesterday morning with Michael Irvin on a local Miami radio show and basically said he would love to continue playing with Manning and that he would love to see that happen in Miami. It seems that whatever team Manning goes to, Wayne is going to follow.
When Manning finally makes his decision it’s more likely going to be predicated on which team gives him the best atmosphere to work in, what team gives him the best chance to return to a Super Bowl, and which team offers him the best contract. Money is really the last thing Manning will think about. He says he hasn’t given any thought as to where he will play but everyone knows that is not true. It’s absolutely impossible not to. He has a short list of teams and a couple of teams that will intrigue enough to warrant a visit or respect of the staff to hear what they have to say, but Manning knows where he wants to be and what is best for his family.
Personally, I think the draw of playing Tom Brady twice a year is intriguing for Manning’s competitive side but does Miami provide him the absolute best chance to return to a Super Bowl?