Peyton Manning to Seahawks: Why the NFL's Newest Free Agent Would Dazzle Seattle

Steven Goldstein@@GoldsteinNUContributor IMarch 8, 2012

Peyton Manning to Seahawks: Why the NFL's Newest Free Agent Would Dazzle Seattle

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    In the ever-changing world of professional football, Peyton Manning's presence under center for the Colts was the closest thing possible to a guarantee. Week in and week out, No. 18 ripped apart cover-two defenses donning Indy blue, a tradition that stood for over a decade.

    Manning, the 21st century's version of the prototypical quarterback, rose to folklore status on the heels of modesty, robustness and sheer gridiron intelligence. 

    His release on Wednesday incited an end of an era in Indianapolis and subsequently began an NFL bidding war that will likely go unparalleled for years.

    Amid the flurry of possible destinations that now face the future Hall of Famer, the Emerald City glistens.

    Per the Boston Herald, Seattle may not be the front-runner for Manning's services at the moment, but it's hard to ignore the Seahawks as an enticing, sensible option for the veteran to settle down with.

    Would Peyton Manning to the 'Hawks make sense? There's no shortage of reasons to think so.

Marketability in the Emerald City

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    It's hard to ignore just how similar the markets of Indianapolis and Seattle are.

    Both are modestly-populated cities with relatively minimal media presence. Both also flaunt passionate, rambunctious fans that seem to turn star players into idolized, larger-than-life figures (think Gary Payton and Ichiro).

    Like the Colts in Indianapolis, the Seahawks have no other powerhouse franchise to compete with for the city's attention. A mid-sized market like Seattle would cater to Manning's humble nature while still providing an excitable consumer base.

    With Manning's marketability and the enthusiasm of Seattle's "12th man," the stage is set for a lucrative, yet endearing, relationship.

Marshawn Lynch and a Ferocious Ground Game

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    Unlike the Cardinals, Jets, Redskins and the other major players for Manning this offseason, the Seahawks can offer the security that comes with a dominant rushing attack.

    Peyton enjoyed some of his most statistically successful seasons with perennial Pro Bowler Edgerrin James anchoring the Colts on the ground. With the boisterous, bruising Marshawn Lynch, Manning's offense can take on a dangerous added dimension.

    Conversely, Lynch's 4.2 yards per carry and 13 total scores in the 2011 campaign came despite weak quarterback play. Were Manning to join the Seahawks, Lynch's potential would soar astronomically—far past the rainbows that he famously tastes on the Seattle sideline.

    With Manning's production still in limbo, having a dependable running back is crucial to his development and recovery.

The Presence of Tarvaris Jackson

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    Set to make just $4 million next season, the 'Hawks can afford to keep Tarvaris Jackson in Seattle, immediately making him one of the most tested and experienced second-string signal-callers in all of football.

    Manning's health will still raise red flags throughout 2012, and having a serviceable backup in Jackson would be a serious relief for the 14-year pro.

    Like Lynch, the presence of Jackson alleviates the overwhelming pressures that Peyton faces in his return to the gridiron. With a potential signing of such high risk, providing security and dependability at other positions becomes invaluable. The Seahawks thus emerge here as a sensible suitor.

The Seahawks' Top-Tier Defense

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    Part of Peyton's allure in Indy was his ability to entirely transform the Colts offense, acting as a de-facto coach out on the field. As long as he can still perform at a high level, whatever team Manning joins will immediately light up the scoreboard.

    Landing the star quarterback is therefore largely contingent on providing a strong defense, which Seattle certainly does.

    The ninth-ranked unit in all of football last year, the 'Hawks coasted with a nearly-impermeable secondary.

    Cornerbacks Brandon Bowner, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor each tallied at least four interceptions, and Seattle celebrated—albeit very quietly—great success on the defensive side of the ball.

    If the 'Hawks can re-sign studs David Hawthorne and Red Bryant, it will be a huge step towards landing the grand prize of this winter's free agency. If Peyton and the Colts were able to succeed with some shaky defenses, just imagine his potential with a reliable, elite unit.

Peyton's Success in the West

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    Throughout his career, Manning has been nothing short of dominant against the NFC West.

    Against the Rams, he's posted a QB rating of 96.1. And against the Cardinals, a whopping 126.4.

    The West will be undoubtedly more competitive next year with the emergence of San Francisco and Arizona. But seeing as two of Seattle's three divisional foes play indoors, where Manning was accustomed to in Indianapolis, Peyton should have little trouble acclimating.

'Checkbook Blazing'

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    As reported by ESPN New York's Rich Cimini, Seattle is ready to offer Peyton Manning the huge deal he is expected to pursue this offseason:

    "Hearing from a league source the Seahawks will come out, checkbook blazing, for Manning."

    With plenty of cap room, a "double-singing" of Peyton and free-agent wideout Reggie Wayne, a target that Manning famously frequented in Indianapolis, becomes a legitimate possibility.

    Given the unavoidable physical and mental readjustments that he will encounter, having a familiar face in Wayne, who, up until this year was an archetype of consistency at the receiver position, will be an important step towards reasserting the Tennessee alum's dominance. General manager John Schneider and company have the money to spend, and if the Seahawks can land Wayne, Peyton may certainly follow.

A Receiving Core with Huge Upside

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    Even if Seattle cannot haul in Reggie Wayne, they still offer an intriguing young group of wideouts that, with Peyton's expertise, can become bona-fide stars. Sidney Rice and Doug Baldwin are two speedy talents with tremendous upside, and with Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate in the mix, the Seahawks will be able to run a formidable spread offense.

    Unlike many of the potential new homes for Manning (San Francisco, New York and Washington), Seattle offers Peyton the weapons he needs for immediate success.

    The average age of Baldwin, Rice and Tate is under 24 years old. True, front-runner Arizona flaunts a dynamic receiving core led by vertical threat Larry Fitzgerald. But it might be hard for Manning to pass on the opportunity to mold such young, raw players with tremendous promise.

'Willing to Adjust the Offense'

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    As tweeted by Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter, should Peyton join the Seahawks, he would be able to assert absolute authority over the Seattle offense: "Seahawks are willing to not only pay Manning and sign Wayne, but also adjust the offense to what Manning is accustomed to running."

    Thus, the adjustment process for Manning becomes increasingly effortless. Peyton wouldn't have to break a sweat over foreign West Coast formations or any other tricks Pete Carroll has up his sleeve.

    Peyton's made an NFL name for himself with "football smarts," and his frequent audibles at the line, although mocked by many, showcase the leadership and awareness that are so vital to his team's success.

    With the offense already tailored to his playing style, a West Coast relocation seems more and more natural.

A Chance to Change a Franchise's Entire Culture

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    The Seahawks are one of 10 teams in the league to have never hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

    With only one Super Bowl appearance in franchise history and the only team to switch conferences twice in the post-merger era, Seattle lacks the aura and prestige that encompasses other football cities around the country.

    Yet one man's signature on a dotted line could change everything.

    The acquisition of Manning would do wonders for the franchise's reputation. And with a young offense and a sturdy defense in place, the 'Hawks become immediate title contenders with Manning's talents under center.

    Like the Colts, Peyton would have the opportunity to take a team from relative obscurity to center stage. It attracted LeBron James to South Beach and Chris Paul to the Clippers, and being the face of two franchises will be difficult to pass up.

A Shot at Another Title

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    Regardless of a Peyton Manning signing, the Seahawks will be competitive in 2012.

    The 'Hawks stunned the NFL champion Giants on their own turf last year, and they knocked off the Ravens, who were just a botched field goal away from playing on Super Sunday as well. After a disappointing 2-6 start, Seattle managed to crawl back to a respectable 7-9 record.

    With Manning at the helm, Seattle has a serious shot at earning its first ring. Peyton will be looking to bolster his Canton resume with a second Super Bowl title, and with an impressive run game and defense, Seattle just might have the right pieces in place to make that a reality.