Well it is official. The hunt for Manning is on and it seems like we’ve narrowed down the search to only a few teams. As far as I can determine, we’re down to only a few teams:
Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs, and Arizona Cardinals.
Lets break them down.
Kansas City Chiefs
Number 1 on the board is KC. Sure they have Cassel…and Orton, but frankly who cares. Neither is elite, or even very good. Peyton would come in to a powerful running line and a good rushing attack. They also feature a strong defense behind him. Add a couple of pieces on offense and this is an elite team. The downside is the worry that Kansas City won’t want to part with Cassel who still cost the franchise so much. Romeo Crennel also stated Orton will have a shot in training camp. There isn’t a lot on offense for him to throw at (inconsistent Dwayne Bowe is it), and the coach staff has had a troubled past.
My second favorite landing spot, more like 1A. The Cardinals lack a top flight offensive line to protect him, and that would be a massive need for Peyton who needs to minimize the hits he takes to continue to play. Their defense is hot and cold, and they really only have Larry Fitzgerald on offense as a weapon. But if they can find room for Wayne as well, they could expand Peyton’s weapons. They play in a dome which Peyton likes, and in a very weak division that could be prime for the taking. The Cardinals are in transition though, and I don’t think they’ll throw in the towel and cut Kolb immediately. Peyton should have a long leash when he arrives, but with not one but two quarterbacks waiting to go he might want a place with more security.
This is my third favorite to land Manning currently. You already have Reggie Wayne shouting out for the duo to team up with Marshall. The Dolphins have the cap room now to bring in both of them, and probably a couple more of his old teammates like Saturday, Dallas Clark, and maybe even Dwight Freeney. The Dolphins have a lot of talented pieces on both sides of the ball and have the maneuverability to transition to an offense and defense that suits what Manning does. Now Miami has some down sides. They’re still a good distance from the playoffs, with holes on both sides of the ball. They also happen to play in a division with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan, and the hot and cold Buffalo Bills. It would make for some compelling football, but if he’s really looking for a Superbowl this is probably not the division to go to.
This might be the best fit for Peyton, but not the team closest to winning now. They have a couple young promising receivers that could benefit from an elite quarterback throwing to them (Sideny Rice, Mike Williams, Golden Tate). They have a powerful running back in Marshawn Lynch. A developing defense with potential to be elite. Cap room to spend on a couple of guys for Peyton, and a coach whose got his team fired up. The division is weak, but Peyton might be looking for a bigger market for his talents.
New York Jets
I’m not as big a fan of this move because it would put him in the same market as his brother. It does present one of the best teams in the hunt for his services. A suitable defense, plenty of offensive weapons, and a willingness to adopt his offense of old. They could be in the market for a wide receiver like Reggie Wayne which would help bring in the sought after quarterback. Like I said, putting him in the same market as Eli is probably discouraging (he doesn’t even want to be in the same division) and again a tough division could deter him.
Multiple reports are that Peyton doesn’t want to go to the NFC East to battle Eli twice a year. I don’t blame him. Tensions are probably running high in that family already. The Redskins have almost nothing on offense (bringing in every Colt cut last year would be an upgrade I think. Only Dallas Clark might be an argument). Their defense is almost elite, but still needs to play more consistent and stop the run (which good teams do against teams Peyton plays for). Still, Dan Snyder has a big check book and the brass to spend til he drops. He’s also famous for revitalizing the D.C. fan base through high price free agent pick ups in the off-season (Albert Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb, etc)
Dark horse candidates:
San Francisco 49ers – Jim like Alex Smith and Alex likes Jim. They don’t have a lot of cap and look to spend it on an offensive weapon
Denver Broncos – Aside from the fact that the fan base will kill them, it would be good to mentor Tebow under Manning. They don’t want to run the risk of destroying their publicity.