The Broncos are expected to field trade offers for playoff-winning third-year quarterback Tim Tebow as soon as the deal with Manning is finalized, and may take as little as a fifth-round draft pick in return for shipping him out of the Mile High city.
It seems bizarre, on the surface, that the Broncos wouldn't keep Tebow on the bench to learn behind one of the game's greats, but if Manning is going to play out the full five years of the contract he's reportedly about to sign, then Tebow's presence in Denver won't bear fruit.
Could the AFC North be a landing spot for Tebow? It seems like a ridiculous question on the surface, but stranger things have happened—remember, the Indianapolis Colts released Manning, an unthinkable move.
The Cleveland Browns make a lot of sense, though it's highly doubtful the team actually pursues him. Quarterback Colt McCoy doesn't have a backup as of today, and the mobile and versatile Tebow could also be useful in the running game, an area the Browns need to improve.
The Pittsburgh Steelers already have a mobile, unpredictable quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, so Tebow would be a useful analog to him as a backup. Pittsburgh's also a team in which Tebow could see legitimate playing time if Roethlisberger's injury history is any indicator of his future.
Further, all three of last year's Steelers backup quarterbacks are unrestricted free agents, and there's no indication yet what the team will do with any or all of them.
Tebow can be had for a fifth-round pick and a small salary that could fit within the Steelers' limited cap space, especially if they lose wide receiver Mike Wallace to another team.
Baltimore is an unlikely landing spot but one that could prove highly intriguing. Quarterback Joe Flacco isn't terribly mobile, and he has just Tyrod Taylor backing him up. Having Tebow as added insurance—plus as an added dimension to the team's already successful run game—could morph the Ravens' offense into something strange and scary.
Again, the appeal of a mobile backup quarterback and added interest to the run game could make Tebow a smart add for the Cincinnati Bengals as well. With so much cap space, they could easily afford him, even if his price tag were higher.
Perhaps none of the four AFC North teams are considered front-runners for Tebow's services, but who on earth thought that after what Tebow accomplished for the Broncos last year that they'd replace him with Manning of all people? The last few months in the NFL have proven anything is possible.