So when the best regular-season quarterback in NFL history is on the open market, you're gonna have a lot of bidders. There are only a handful of teams that are just plain not interested in Peyton Manning.
Then one other team, the Cleveland Browns, is much more likely to draft a dynamic, young quarterback to be its future, putting them out of the race.
That leaves, in my mind, seven teams that are potential landing spots for Peyton. Here are the odds for who could end up having him start for them next year.
First things first: I do not think that the Colts will keep Peyton around. A few months back, I thought they almost certainly would, but I have since changed my mind.
With the little media feuds between Manning and owner Jim Irsay, it has become clear that, if nothing else, they aren't on the same page.
Furthermore, Andrew Luck is a once-in-a-decade opportunity for the Colts, and they're gonna take him. I've seen Luck compared to a more athletic version of Peyton Manning, giving him a ceiling that is unimaginable.
They could get a king's ransom by trading the pick, but then they'd be stuck with a quarterback who may only have one or two years left in him, and his replacement likely wouldn't be as talented as Andrew Luck.
As far as I'm concerned, the Colts are moving on.
Odds: 100 to 1
The also have one of the best centers and left tackles in the game in Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, which ought to appeal to Manning. The rest of their offense is hit-or-miss, now that Santonio Holmes is almost certainly gone.
Their defense, on the other hand, is pretty great. As everyone knows, Darrelle Revis is the best corner in football, and having opposing quarterbacks have to throw against him while trying to keep up with Manning is a recipe for interceptions.
They also have a pretty good front seven with Muhammed Wilkerson coming in and Kendrick Ellis probably taking over for the departing Sione Pouha.
That's what the Jets can offer Manning: a great offensive line and a tough defense, but no real weapons.
Odds: 75 to 1
Alex Smith may have finally hit his stride, but he's also a free agent, and after a good year, may want more money than the 49ers are willing to give him.
Also, that great defense that New York has? San Francisco has that, but in spades.
Between Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith, they can certainly rush the passer to keep opposing quarterbacks on their toes. They also have Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, just to make it even better.
With how good San Francisco's defense is, Manning won't be asked to do as much, which is good because his only weapon will be Vernon Davis (unless you count dumpoff passes to Frank Gore).
Outside of their lack of receivers, San Francisco is a complete team. Peyton Manning plus a receiver or two in the draft makes them almost a guaranteed Super Bowl winner...if they don't re-sign Alex Smith.
Odds: 40 to 1
Pete Carroll is definitely thinking long-term with the Seattle Seahawks, which is why they aren't my favorite to pick up Manning; he's a two- to three-year solution at best.
Other than that, they seem like a good fit. They play in a weak division, they have a good offensive line, a great running game and are decent at receiver (and would be pretty good if Reggie Wayne follows Peyton, which is expected). They also have a very good defense.
I mean, it's a good enough offense to make Tarvaris Jackson look competent, so I imagine Peyton would make it look fantastic.
It'd be a great fit for Manning, but I just don't see Pete Carroll pulling the trigger on the deal.
Odds: 40 to 1
The first real contender in the Manning sweepstakes: the Miami Dolphins.
They just hired an offensively minded head coach, have one grade-A receiver in Brandon Marshall, a couple of pretty good running backs, the makings of a great offensive line (Mike Pouncey and Jake Long), and it would put Manning in a division where he'd get to play Tom Brady twice a year.
Also, I hear that Miami is a pretty nice place to live.
The Dolphins looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL at the beginning of the season, but once Matt Moore took the reins, they started winning games. That tells me that the only real position they're missing is a quarterback.
With Peyton on the roster, the Dolphins would look more like their end-of-the-season selves all season long...maybe even better.
Odds: 20 to 1
That fact alone should entice Manning to at least consider Arizona. They also have an interesting developmental quarterback in John Skelton, who could learn a lot from Manning.
They are also are saddled with a giant contract for Kevin Kolb.
However, if they can secure Manning, I'm willing to bet at least one team out there would be willing to give up at least a little something for Kolb. They'd have to eat part of his contract, but they'd likely be able to get a third-round selection out of him.
If they can solve the Kolb issue and use their first draft pick to give Peyton some better protection (á la David DeCastro), then they could have a dynamic passing offense.
Odds: 15 to 1
And finally, the current favorite to land Manning—the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins would prefer not to sell the farm for Robert Griffin, so they'll grab Peyton Manning if they can. Also, since their quarterback was inconsistency itself (Rex Grossman), we've all seen how good the Redskins can be with good quarterback play.
Add to that the fact that Dan Snyder loves making big splashes in free agency and the fact that it's do-or-die time for Shanahan, and you have a perfect recipe for a team that'll go after Manning.
The Redskins have a pretty good defense. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are great, and London Fletcher continues to be a great player, despite being about 110 years old now.
They are set at running back, have a few choice targets for Manning to fire to and can pressure opposing quarterbacks. Their coach needs to win now, and their owner loves free agency. Sounds like a perfect fit to me.
Odds: 10 to 1