Peyton Manning: 12 Teams Want Manning, but a Few of Those Shouldn't

Cian FaheyFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2012

PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 9:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts talks to his players during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 9, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

After less than 24 hours as a free agent, 12 teams have reportedly contacted Peyton Manning, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Manning, for obvious reasons, is going to attract a lot of interest on the open market, but that does not mean there are 12 teams who should be trying to sign him.

He may be the only four-time league MVP in the history of the game, an eight time All-Pro selection and one of the two quarterbacks listed on the 200s NFL All-Decade team. He may completely change the face of any NFL franchise and he may even be my favorite NFL player of all time (which is obviously the highest accolade of all).

He also may not last longer than two more years in the NFL.

In fact, at 35 years of age, Manning would be coming close to the end of his career even without his severe injury issues. Without the surgeries, Manning could probably have played at a high level until he was 40. With them, from a non-medical point of view, I believe he will be lucky to finish three more.

The 12 teams who have expressed their interest in Manning will understand that they are getting a high quality quarterback, but not for the long term. Because Manning is a special player, settling for short-term success isn't a problem.

Not every team is built for short-term success, however. Many of the 12 teams trying to sign Manning will be making a mistake by bringing him in.

While the 12 franchises weren't exposed by Schefter, he did confirm two: the Chiefs and Broncos—simple deduction will allow you to make an educated guess.

Obviously, after their emotional goodbye this week, the Indianapolis Colts can be ruled out.

Along with the Colts, the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams all have franchise quarterbacks in place.

That leaves 17 teams in the league as potential Manning suitors.

Josh Freeman may or may not be a franchise quarterback in Tampa Bay, but you can guarantee the Glazers, who own the Buccaneers, won't have any interest in investing in Manning and the pieces that will have to come with him. The Oakland Raiders recently acquired Carson Palmer for a heavy price and have a deep financial issues to deal with prior to free agency.

Some may put the Houston Texans in the Manning sweepstakes, but the Texans have already got a stellar starting quarterback in the form of Matt Schaub. Schaub is as close to a franchise quarterback as any in the NFL. The fact he was injured last year shouldn't make a difference.

Those three quarterbacks are more than capable starters while two other teams already are set at the position for the coming years.

In Buffalo, the Bills have tied up too much money in Ryan Fitzpatrick after giving him a huge deal last year for him not to be their starter. While the Tennessee Titans already have their short-term—Matt Hasselbeck—and long-term—Jake Locker—quarterbacks in place.

That leaves 12 NFL teams that could possibly have contacted Peyton Manning.

While some of the 12 make sense for Manning, there are a few for various reasons that would be hurting themselves more than helping by bringing in the former Colts star.

Presuming my deductions are correct, the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos are all making prudent decisions by contacting Peyton Manning.

Each of those teams either give up nothing in the long term by bringing Manning in or have the pieces in place to compete with him at quarterback.

For these teams, it is a different situation. 


Baltimore Ravens

Reasons they are interested

The Ravens are yet to commit a long-term deal with Joe Flacco despite an improved performance in the playoffs last year. With Ray Lewis and Ed Reed's window to win a championship closing—in Lewis' case it could already be closed—Ozzie Newsome will want to give his team every opportunity to take advantage of having two future Hall of Famers on defense.

Manning would also be a major improvement for the offense off the field. Manning is famously good at working with younger receivers and the Ravens have plenty of those as well as two very talented young tight ends.

Why it would be a mistake

The Ravens' offense is built around Ray Rice. They are built to be a running team with a defense that thrives from the rest, which comes with sustained drives. While disrupting the locker room by removing one of their leaders, the Ravens would also need to completely revamp their offensive philosophy for the short term and give up on their long-term goals.

Flacco has had too much exposure to be satisfied as a backup. The Ravens would then have to trade him for lower value because he only has a year left on his deal, which could have adverse affects on the locker room. Even if the locker room is OK with it, Flacco has proved they can win games with him even if it is not because of him. It would not be easy to replace him for the long term.


New York Jets

Reasons they are interested

Rex Ryan hasn't been guaranteeing a Super Bowl this offseason, the reason being he has lost faith in his offense. Mark Sanchez didn't have a good year last year when most expected him to step up. Ryan would not only be guaranteeing Super Bowls with Manning, he would be shouting it in the streets.

Why it would be a mistake

Sanchez struggled last year, that is true. However, Sanchez wasn't the biggest reason for his struggles. The Jets rebuilt their offense prior to last year, but they made bad decision after bad decision, which would have made any quarterback struggle. Sanchez is still a young quarterback learning the game. He undoubtedly has talent, but not even Manning could have made Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason/Jeremy Kerley work without a strong running game and poor pass protection.

The receiving corps must be built in a very specific way, the Jets failed to do this last year and severely hurt Mark Sanchez's development—severely, but not fatally. If the Jets invested in talent around Sanchez opposed to replacing him, they could have sustained success over the long term.


Cleveland Browns

Reasons they are interested

Colt McCoy isn't the answer in Cleveland. Bringing in Peyton Manning would make the franchise somewhat relevant, which it hasn't been for years. In a division where every other offense has a stronger quarterback, improving the position is a must.

Why it would be a mistake

The Browns have a young roster with some glaring holes on it. The best thing Manning would do for the team is give its young receivers some guidance. Past that, however, he would just be taking the place of a younger talent who could develop with the team.

It would be pointless to have Manning as opposed to someone like Robert Griffin III or Matt Flynn because the Browns are a few years away from being competitive. Manning is the best player they can get right now, but he would likely be retired by the time the Browns are playing for anything again. While taking that risk would be worthwhile in some people's eyes, it makes no sense to delay developing a younger prospect any longer in Cleveland.

The Browns could try to bring Manning in and develop someone behind him, but I doubt Manning has much interest in aiding his replacement at this stage.


Minnesota Vikings

Reasons they are interested

Christian Ponder had a solid rookie season, but he wasn't on the level of Cam Newton or Andy Dalton. The Vikings' initial plan was to bring in a veteran so Ponder could sit, but Donovan McNabb's performances left too much to desire. With Manning, Ponder could return to the bench and learn for another season or two.

Why it would be a mistake

While it would not cost much to bring in Manning financially, the Vikings don't have the time to incorporate him into the franchise. With the worst secondary in the NFL, a serious injury to Adrian Peterson, little receiving talent on the outside and a very poor offensive line, the Vikings need to focus on finding better pieces to put around Ponder rather than replace him.

Manning would bring a lot of hype and greater expectations to Minnesota. Most of the Vikings roster still needs to concentrate on developing and growing—with the media coverage Manning would bring and the raised expectations, the stress and pressure would add unnecessary obstacles for those players.

Manning would be more of a disruption than aid in Minnesota.


Jacksonville Jaguars

Reasons they are interested

If this were simply a football move, the Jaguars wouldn't bother with Peyton Manning. However, the Jaguars need to find a way to sell tickets. After passing on Tim Tebow, Manning would bring some level of relevance back to Jacksonville and potentially help them sell out a game or two next season.

Why it would be a mistake

Offensively, the Jaguars have Maurice Jones-Drew and not much else. They are a running team with a young quarterback already in place. Blaine Gabbert may have been drafted by Jack Del Rio, who is no longer the head coach, but A.J. Smith is still the team's general manager and he actually traded up for Gabbert.

Gabbert had a horrible rookie season looking simply terrified in the pocket, but he was also playing behind an offensive line ravaged with injuries and a receiving corps lacking any sort of talent. Instead of adding a quarterback, the team needs to find some receivers to complement the undersized Mike Thomas and inconsistent Marcedes Lewis.

Adding Manning would be counterproductive as it would move them away from their best offensive piece, Jones-Drew, and further deflate Gabbert, who took a lot of criticism last year.


Peyton Manning is a superstar. He is at the very least on the second tier of all-time NFL quarterbacks behind Joe Montana. However, as much as the Colts fell off without him last year, Manning has only won one Super Bowl ring during his 14 year career and appeared in two of the big games. That is not so much a knock on Manning as it is on the importance of the quarterback position. The quarterback is important, but not as important as many perceive.

Teams are more likely to win with all-around rosters opposed to just one big star. Teams also need to be built over time opposed to just throwing rosters together. Look at the Philadelphia Eagles last year compared to the New York Giants. One team was put together through the draft over the years, while the other was thrown together in a matter of weeks. One won a Super Bowl, the other didn't make the playoffs.

The attraction of Peyton Manning is palpable to most NFL teams, but keeping perspective on the impact he will make on each franchise in the NFL is important. This is not Madden—simply having the best players doesn't always translate to having the best the long term or the short term.

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