The competition to sign legendary QB Peyton Manning has become an elimination derby over the last week. While Miami and Arizona appear to have fallen by the wayside, Manning is still keeping his options open on a handful of remaining teams.
One of the teams that’s survived the early cuts appears to be the Tennesee Titans. The NFL Network reports (via Twitter) that Manning plans to work out for Tennessee, though a date hasn’t been set yet. That leaves the Titans on an even footing with the Denver Broncos, with San Francisco also in the running at this stage.
In spite of the presence of talented youngster Jake Locker, it’s not hard to see why the Titans want to add Manning. From the QB’s point of view, though, Tennessee offers the worst landing spot of the apparent finalists.
There are numerous reasons Tennessee is the only one of the three teams that failed to make the playoffs last season, but the most damning is this: The Titans had the least effective defense of that trio—by a wide margin. As good as Manning is, that’s a problem he can’t fix by himself.
The Titans also have the biggest question mark at the running back position after Chris Johnson’s inexplicable 2011 collapse. Even Denver’s Willis McGahee-led committee seems like a safer bet for Manning, who really doesn’t need to play in another pass-only offense at this point in his career.
Even the Titans’ receiving corps isn’t a particular advantage, though it’s probably the team’s strongest unit. Star Kenny Britt is coming off of a major knee injury, and Nate Washington and Jared Cook—though productive—aren’t much better than Denver’s Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas or even as good as 49er standouts Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis.
It’s entirely possible that off-field factors are helping the Titans’ cause—Manning is, after all, a University of Tennessee alum—but when it comes to the teams on the field, Manning’s chances of winning in the twilight of his career simply aren’t as good with the Titans.