Who is on top of the leader board? Who holds the keys to Peyton Mannings future? Which team is leads the others in the fight for Manning? Who knows, but let’s take a look at the “Where we stand with Peyton Manning” Power Poll.
1: Kansas City Chiefs – To me, the Chiefs have more sway than the media favorite Denver Broncos or the Miami Dolphins. They have the money, they have money to spend in free agency, they play in a weak division, and can make the playoffs no questions asked with Manning calling the shots. They also have Clark Hunt as an owner, the son of Lamar Hunt who was very well respected around the league. The team says they will talk with him, if they truly want him, they can probably get him. They have reportedly already offered him a contract. (UPDATE: While the Denver Broncos are currently courting Manning, I still don’t rule out KC getting involved). Also: Thanks to Paul H. for pointing out my error in saying Lamar Hunt was the owner. It’s hard to think of KC without immediately thinking Lamar. Of course it was meant to be Clark, his son.
2: Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins need a QB and owner Stephen Ross will spend the money, maybe even site unseen. The Mannings own a condo in Miami and love the weather. The reality here is that in the “twilight” of Manning’s career being able to stay close to home will be an advantage. The Dolphins supposed willingness to bring along Reggie Wayne possibly could also be a factor. The Dolphins have a solid defense, a perennial Pro-Bowl LT, a 1,000 yard rusher, Pro-Bowl WR, and a new HC that is respected in the NFL.
3: Arizona Cardinals – not to be outdone by Miami, this is a very close 3rd to me. The Cardinals have one of the best receivers in the league in Larry Fitzgerald but the support starts to fall off considerably there. A solid special teams unit and a young defense could help sway Manning. For Arizona though, Bill Bidwell is not a favorite owner in the league and some find him to be quite stingy with his money. That could turn Manning off. More importantly, playing in the NFC could turn Manning off.
4: Denver Broncos – many believe that because the Broncos got first crack at Manning that they are the team to beat. Truthfully, they may have simply been the most convenient. Denver was in the playoffs last season as the AFC West winners but that does not mean they were the best team in that division. They do have John Elway and Elway is an icon. The willingness of the team to turn over their offense to Manning could get a deal done, but I doubt that it will get done prior to Manning visiting other teams. If this were “The Bachelor” this wouldn’t even warrant a first impression rose. But the impression Manning gets from them, could send them packing.
5: Seattle Seahawks – The ‘Hawks are said to be willing to do anything to get Manning but apparently that wasn’t enough to get Manning on a flight to the northwest United States. The Seahawks will have to a lot of impressing to get Manning to give up his east coast lifestyle.
Off the grid – Cleveland has said they don’t want him, the New York Jets reportedly were told he doesn’t want them, and it’s been recently made public that he has told Washington that there is no interest there either. We will update this poll if necessary over the weekend to see who may be landing Manning by his own personal deadline of March 13th.