The Peyton Manning chase reportedly is down to four teams (Broncos, Dolphins, Cardinals, Titans.) A few weeks ago I handicapped the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, and at the time, I pegged the Miami Dolphins as the most likely suitor. However, things have changed I would like to submit a revised analysis of where Peyton’s whirlwind tour will end.
The Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are a dysfunctional organization who has been turned down by Jeff Fisher and Jim Harbaugh in the past 18 months and just traded away their number one offensive weapon. The weather is gorgeous and they play in the AFC. While their owner has money to burn and they have the cap room, the dolphins appear to be a longshot at this point.
The Arizona Cardinals
Ken Whisenhunt took a page out of Brad Childress’ book when he personally escorted Manning around Phoenix during his visit. Bringing in Larry Fitzgerald to assist in the recruiting process was genius as well. However, Arizona would need to get creative to be able to fit Manning under the cap and this would likely hinder their ability to bring in additional free agents to help Peyton out. Additionnally, the Cards must release Kevin Kolb by 4 pm on Friday to avoid paying him an additional $7 million dollars this year. If Peyton hasn’t made his decision by then, and the Cards do not release Kolb, I think that will tell you a lot about how Arizona feels about their chances.
According to reports, the Tennesse contingent picked Peyton up in the Raleigh-Durham airport in order to personally escort him (via private jet) to Nashville. Titans owner Bud Adams has said he will do everything in his power to bring Peyton home to Tennessee. Jake Locker could do worse than learning behind Peyton for a few years. However, in case Bud forgot, his team had a very capable starter in the form of Matt Hassellbeck last year. If the Titans sign Manning, he’ll be released and join an already robust QB free agent pool. While it seemed like a longshot just a few days ago, Peyton’s wife is from Tennessee, they play in a division Peyton is intimately familiar with and Manning has always spoke fondly of his days with the Vols. If the money’s right, I think Peyton Manning finishes his career in Tennessee. And then I will post a slightly less compelling article about where Matt Hassellbeck ends up.
The Broncos were considered the frontrunners until Tennessee got involved. Peyton has an unbelievable amount of respect for John Elway and Elway appears willing to sell his soul if it means getting Tim Tebow out of Denver. Personally, I think Denver is the best fit for Manning and would be the easiest team for Manning to get back to a Super Bowl with. In fact, that may be the only reason Denver appears to be one of Manning top choices.
A thought: If Peyton Manning picks the Broncos this Friday, that means that Tim Tebow will have lost his job on 3-16?
As it stands today, I predict Bud Adams offers half of Nashville in guaranteed money and Peyton returns to Tennessee in an effort to cement his legacy both in the NFL and the State. Denver is a close second, followed by Arizona in third place and Miami bringing up the rear.