Why Peyton Manning to the Miami Dolphins Would Help Both in 2012 and Beyond

Thomas GaliciaContributor IIJanuary 23, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts looks to pass against the New York Jets during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Jets won 17-16.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Now that the Miami Dolphins have named their head coach, the focus turns to what Miami should do at quarterback.

This is a subject that divides many Miami Dolphins fans as all of them have their opinion on what Miami should do with the position.

To some the answer is trade the farm for Robert Griffin III. To others, they feel the correct choice is to throw money at Packers backup quarterback and impending free agent Matt Flynn. Still, there are some that feel that Matt Moore should get a shot at starting for Miami next season.

There's even a microscopic minority in favor of bringing back Chad Henne.

But none of those opinions might matter because The Palm Beach Post is reporting the rumor that owner Stephen Ross has another idea: Peyton Manning.

Manning, as you may well know, missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury and still hasn't been cleared to play by doctors.

The Colts possess the No. 1 pick and will likely use it on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. The team is already in the process of cleaning house as seen by them letting go of Bill Polian and head coach Jim Caldwell. Many feel that Manning might be next in the Colts' Master Cleanse.

If he is, it will have to be through free agency. The Colts must release Peyton Manning by March 8th, or else they will owe him $28 million. More likely than not, no team will trade for Manning at that salary, especially since there are still health issues surrounding him.

However, if Manning does get released and doctors do clear him, expect the Miami Dolphins to make a run at the legendary QB, who is said to be at the top of Ross's wish list.

This move would help Miami in the short term by selling more season tickets to casual fans (think the Miami Heat in 2010 after re-signing Wade and signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh, only with more tempered expectations due to Manning's age and health), and would give Miami a franchise quarterback for at least one season.

But believe it or not, this move could also help the Dolphins in the long term.

Let me explain this: if the Dolphins sign Flynn, head coach Joe Philbin is married to him, for better or for worse. Flynn will likely command a contract similar to the one Kevin Kolb signed in Arizona last offseason, and Miami will be engaged in a bidding war for his services with the Cleveland Browns (who, like Philbin is likely to use in Miami, use the West Coast offense) and the Washington Redskins (another WCO team, coached by Mike Shannahan).

Flynn will also expect to be not just be the 2012 Dolphins starting quarterback, but their starter in 2013, 2014 and beyond. If he struggles his first couple of years in Miami, the Dolphins might be hesitant to draft a quarterback in Round 1 considering the money and years they will be putting up for his services.

But with Manning, it's different. Manning will allow the Dolphins to address other holes in the first three rounds of the draft, then in the middle to late rounds they can acquire a quarterback—Boise State's Kellen Moore, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and even Jacksonville University's Josh McGregor would be some of the options here.

Then the Dolphins coaching staff will have the entire 2012 season to evaluate the development of whichever quarterback they choose.

If they feel that the quarterback chosen hasn't progressed or isn't what they're looking for, then they can still take a gamble on a first round quarterback in 2013, provided that they're in the position to do so or trade up to select said quarterback (Matt Barkley and Landry Jones are the first two that come to mind).

If they feel the quarterback has progressed (and provided that Manning can give them two or three years, which isn't out of the realm of possibility), then they will have confidence moving forward.

Either way it's a win-win proposition, assuming that Manning is healthy next season. Manning can give the Dolphins at least two seasons, and even at 70 percent, Manning by himself is worth at least seven wins.

The Dolphins will only have five games against playoff teams on their schedule next season (New England, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Houston) and their strength of schedule for next season is a very manageable .480 (and yes, that is when factoring in the Patriots, 49ers, Texans and Bengals). So assuming that Manning is even only 70 percent healthy, Miami should contend for a playoff spot in 2012.

This will buy Philbin and the new Dolphins coaching staff time to find their "next Dan Marino," and even the pie in the sky possibility you might even see Manning break some of Marino's (now Favre's, but I still consider them Marino's) records in a Dolphins uniform.

If Manning is healthy, I don't see how the Dolphins can lose in this situation. I'd even be optimistic about it.