Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Peyton Manning will become a free agent

Get ready for Manning Watch! When NFL free agency officially begins next Tuesday at midnight, teams will be lining up to woo the services of Peyton Manning.

Even though Manning had four procedures on his neck, making him a very risky gamble indeed for any team willing to bank on him, it won't matter to teams who feel that adding the future Hall of Famer will result in instant success in 2012.

The Colts cut ties with Manning Tuesday night, refusing to pay a $28 million roster bonus and his $90 million contract. The Colts instead will go forward with the Andrew Luck era. Luck, who is expected to be the first round selection by the 2-14 Colts in April, will be thrust into the Colts starting lineup almost immediately. Luck to the Colts has been such a lock the last few months that Colts owner Jim Irsay has been talking about getting Luck into the offense and camp for a long time.

Now the question is where will Manning end up?

The Jets, Redskins, Cardinals, Dolphins, Chiefs, 49ers, and Seahawks have been the hot rumored teams for Manning's services.

The Jets are interested in pursuing Manning according to the New York Post. The Jets want to see if Manning is fully healthy before making a commitment to the quarterback. The Jets have shown before that they are not afraid to pursue the big time quarterback.

Four years ago, the team went after Brett Favre after he changed his mind on retirement. The Jets acquired Favre in trade, even though he never wanted to play for the Jets and subsequently acted that way. While the Favre/Jets marriage got off to a great start when New York won eight of its first 11 games, it all fell apart down the stretch. The Jets missed the playoffs, Eric Mangini was fired, and Favre left for Minnesota.

Or, the Jets could be scared off by Manning because of their bad experience with Favre.

 That said, players in the Jets locker room are not crazy about incumbent Mark Sanchez. Several anonymous players blasted Sanchez as a guy who was "lazy" and carried himself with a sense of "entitlement" for the starting job; moreover, Sanchez has shown next to zero progress as a starting quarterback. His completion percentage and quarterback rating are among the worst in the NFL. This past season, Sanchez had a horrendous season. He looked like a rookie quarterback who couldn't handle the pressure. He turned the ball over 26 times and made one bad throw after another this season.

Even though the Jets offensive line was in flux this year, it was a healthy unit down the stretch, but Sanchez still stunk it up.

The Jets have also been rumored to be interested in signing Chad Henne, the former Dolphins quarterback because of his familiarity with new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.

If the Jets were able to convince Manning to play for them, then Sanchez will be shipped out of town. Clearly, the Jets won't pay two quarterback's starting quarterback money.

In any case, chances are Manning won't want to come to New York. The idea of playing against the Patriots twice a year, coupled with playing in the same town as his kid brother Eli Manning, who is coming off a second Super Bowl title, and the pressure to win in New York, may be too much for even Manning.

Miami has been linked as a favorite with the great weather down there, but the Dolphins make absolutely no sense. They don't have a lot of great pieces, unless you consider Brandon Marshall who drops every big pass that comes his way, and an inconsistent Reggie Bush.

On the other hand, Arizona and San Francisco make the most sense. The Cardinals have a talented crop of young players, including receiver Larry Fitzgerald. They are also three years removed from a Super Bowl trip back in 2008-2009, and some of those players from that team are still in camp.

The 49ers, while they don't have any talent offensively, do have a great defense, and were in the NFC title game this past season with a mediocre quarterback in Alex Smith.

What follows will be a fun couple weeks. Don't expect Manning to sign anywhere come the 13th. It will be a long, drawn-out process that will take a few weeks to develop.

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