Does this change the entire dynamics of the Peyton Manning drama?
Considering that Smith made the effort to fly across country and meet with Miami officials for over five hours, there has to be something more to the story. Right?
Any correlation with Smith meeting Dolphins officials and the Manning situation is pure speculation at this point. San Francisco has played everything close to the vest this offseason, which is why it took three days for the media to find out that the team met with Manning on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos have been publicly wooing Manning for the better part of the last week. This could be seen as detrimental to the continuity of the two teams. I wonder how Tim Tebow and Matt Hasselbeck feel about being regarded as fallback options. As it relates to the 49ers, Smith appears to be OK with it.
The culmination of a week of speculation will be when Manning makes the decision to join one of the three clubs interested in his services. Once that happens, the chips will fall rather quickly.
Last night, I tweeted the following possibilities:
Smith signs with the Dolphins and the next likely outcome will be an announcement that the 49ers signed Manning. OK, that just got thrown to the wolves with the recent report by Jason Cole. Still, you have to think that the two are intertwined at the hips right about now.
Manning signs with the 49ers and the next probable outcome will be Smith signing with the Dolphins. OK, now this makes more sense. You have to believe that the current starting quarterback for San Francisco would choose to stay home if he were actually given a choice.
The Titans sign Manning, and Smith returns to the 49ers. This would obviously leave the Dolphins out in the dark without many options moving forward. This possible scenario would illuminate the issues that Jeff Ireland and Co. have been having since the start of free agency on Tuesday.
Manning signs with the Broncos, San Francisco re-signs Smith and the Titans keep Hasselbeck. This is another possibility that I believe the Dolphins wouldn't want to see. They would then be forced to probably reach for a player like Ryan Tannehill in the draft next month.
Did you get all that? I didn't think so. This is an incredibly fluid situation with so many different parts to it. The competitive balance of the league appears to be at stake with one single person calling the shots. This rarely happens in a league that prides itself on parity.
If Manning chooses the 49ers, they immediately become the clear front-runners to win the Super Bowl in 2012. If he decides to go to the Titans, they become serious contenders for the AFC Championship. And if he chooses the Broncos, Tebow will be placed on the trade block, which would set into motion another frenzied period for the NFL.
This isn't your parents' NFL anymore. It is a year-round league that continues to outshine anything else the sports world has to offer.
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