Schefter says Dolphins could be landing spot for Eli Manning
By Brian Miller
The Miami Dolphins have a quarterback problem this year but in 2018 that problem could be solved with Eli Manning.
This week the New York Giants announced that back-up quarterback Geno Smith will start on Sunday and Eli Manning will take a seat. The benching ends a 200 plus consecutive start streak. It is very unlikely that Manning will return to the Giants in 2018.
Enter the Miami Dolphins.
Shortly after Manning was benched fans began to surmise the possibility of the younger Manning joining the Dolphins this off-season. Naturally the connection Adam Gase has with the older Manning is the reason.
Eli Manning is a consummate professional and took the benching with the same professionalism he has displayed his entire career. Could he actually be an off-season target of the Dolphins? The long answer is not likely but the shorter answer is yes.
Everything hinges on one player. Ryan Tannehill. How well his medical checks come out but more importantly what the Dolphins internally believe Tannehill can bring to the offense in 2018 and more importantly beyond. Tannehill is scheduled to count $19.8 million against next years cap and if he were traded or released the cap savings would be $15.2 million.
The question is should Miami consider this?
Where it makes sense.
Should the Dolphins opt to move on from Tannehill, Manning would provide a one to two-year relief while the Dolphins groomed his replacement. Should Miami finish this season with a high draft pick they could target a top first round prospect to eventually take over the offense.
Manning is a smart quarterback who still has a year or two left. Very rarely will a player with his NFL experience become available and while Tannehill may still have a little room to grow, the Dolphins pretty much know what level he has
Where it doesn’t make sense.
The Dolphins would likely have to trade for Manning which would cost a draft pick. Provided the Giants don’t release him. Manning is under contract in 2018 and will cost the Giants $22 million in cap space. Releasing or trading him would save the team only $9 million of that money and carry a $12 million cap hit. Miami can’t absorb that kind of cap number.
Tannehill had a very good season in his first year with Adam Gase and many believe that Gase really thinks Tannehill can elevate his offense. While that may or may not be true, the real issue is Tannehill’s knee.
Earlier today Adam Schefter said on NFL Live that Miami could be a team to watch regarding Manning during this off-season. That could simply be media-speak if you will. Logically the connection between Gase and Peyton Manning is a strong one.
Of course the debate here is twofold as well. Does Eli still have enough to provide a winning edge with another team? That is unknown. The 2017 season for Manning has been a disaster but how much of the Giants offensive problems are his fault?
Conversely the argument can be made that Tannehill might cost a million or two less than Manning and could also fill the stop-gap role that Manning would provide the Dolphins if he were to come to South Florida.
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At this point it is nothing more than water cooler talk. The Dolphins have a lot of areas of need and quarterback isn’t really high on the priority list if Tannehill returns healthy. He has to make it back to the field and not have any relapses with his knee. It’s a risk for certain.
What the Dolphins do need to do is draft a quarterback this year. That QB does not have to be taken in round one. Miami’s best option would be to take the best defensive player on the board or potentially Saquon Barkley if he fell. If the Dolphins are in position to draft Barkley then they are in position to draft a second round talen quarterback with a high pick in round two.
Miami will have options so while the debate over a potential Manning to Miami signing will only heat up as the season winds down and the off-season begins, the likelihood of it actually materializing is not a high percentage probability. It may be a fancy name to bring in but the reality is there is smarter options that the Dolphins can make and paying a high priced veteran quarterback in the waning years of his career is not a smart one.