If and when the Indianapolis Colts release future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning, the free-agent scrum to sign him will warrant more than a few unnecessary roughness penalties. Even so, some of the league’s most QB-needy teams will gain a crucial advantage by being on Manning’s own list of preferred destinations.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that one of those lucky clubs is the Miami Dolphins. According to the paper’s sources, the fact that Manning and his wife own a condo in the area is one of the factors working in the Dolphins’ favor when it comes to wooing the 11-time Pro Bowler.
From the Dolphins’ perspective, Manning would be like a gift from Heaven, giving them (assuming he’s healthy) the top-drawer signal-caller they’ve been searching for since Dan Marino’s retirement. Even if Manning only lasted a few years in Miami, that would be a big improvement over another few years of Chad Henne or Matt Moore.
As for Manning, he obviously won’t be hurting for suitors, but geography isn’t the only advantage Miami can offer. Few teams in the league (and even fewer in need of a QB) have a left tackle to match the Dolphins’ Jake Long, who’s made the Pro Bowl in all four of his NFL seasons.
The Dolphins will also benefit from a respectable selection of skill-position weapons for Manning to play with, chief among them standout WR Brandon Marshall. Adding Manning to that offense—on a team whose defense is already respectable—would make Miami a contender even in the stacked AFC East.
Just as important, the Dolphins have plenty of cap space already to make a competitive financial offer. With so many other factors working in their favor, they shouldn't have to overpay to land Manning (though he won't come cheap, regardless of where he signs).
If Manning heads elsewhere (perhaps Arizona, where he’d be throwing to the extraordinary Larry Fitzgerald), Miami is expected to be the frontrunner for Matt Flynn after hiring Flynn’s offensive coordinator as its new head coach. Given a shot at Manning, though, the Dolphins need to make sure Manning truly isn't going to be durable to justify passing on one of the most unstoppable passers in NFL history.