Blog Entry

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

Posted on: February 10, 2012 9:48 am
Anyone else see what stadium they're in? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

This is the season of Peyton Manning rumors. We hear he has "a noodle arm." We hear he cannot "throw the ball to the left." We think there's no way he could play for the Colts again after all the drama leading up to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. But what do we know?

Nothing, at least when it comes to Manning's future. In the interest of trying to figure out what uniform -- if any -- Peyton will play, let's handicap the race for one of the all-time greats in 2012.

Anything and everything is in play, except for teams that already have what we'll loosely term a "franchise quarterback." The Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys, Packers, Lions, Bears, Saints, Falcons, Panthers and Rams all have their guy.

The Jaguars, Raiders, Vikings, Buccaneers and Broncos have very recent first-round investments in quarterbacks and aren't likely to pursue Manning. The Bills have a lot invested in Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Peyton Manning isn't going to play in Buffalo. It's like Cleveland. Ain't happening.

That leaves the 49ers, Titans, Chiefs, Jets, Seahawks, Colts, Redskins, Cardinals and Dolphins as possible landing spots. We'll break down the scenarios in our order of likelihood and provide actual available odds from and/or the Vegas percentages from RJ Bell of


49ers: The Niners could perceive Manning as the guy to put them over the top. But Jim Harbaugh says he's got "their guy" in incumbent-but-still-free-agent quarterback Alex Smith. Maybe he means it. Or maybe he's just doing good public relations. It would be a fascinating fit for a number of reasons (Andrew Luck's old coach anyone?) though.
Vegas Odds: 2%

Chiefs: Matt Cassel isn't the long-term answer for anyone, but he did make a Pro Bowl (thanks, schedule-makers!) and he is Scott Pioli's guy. Plus, Romeo Crennel -- a defensive coordinator -- is from the previous regime as well. Oh, and this is Patriots Midwest. Makes no sense.
Vegas Odds: 1.5%

Titans: This would make sense ... except the Titans have already invested in a veteran (Matt Hasselbeck, three-year deal) and a rookie (Jake Locker, first round in 2011). Plus, they came out and said they're not chasing him.
Vegas Odds: 1.5%


Vegas Odds: 11%
Actual Line: 5/1
Everyone will tell you the Jets are the perfect fit, as they're "just one piece away." This couldn't be further from the truth: the Jets are "several pieces away" at least. Some of those pieces are on defense and some of those piece are on offense. Quarterback is one of the pieces they need, but plugging Peyton onto Rex Ryan's roster wouldn't even make them the favorite to win the AFC East, unless he was 100 percent healthy.

There are also people that will tell Eli vs. Peyton in New York is the ultimate storyline. While that's true, that doesn't mean it's something either of those guys want to deal with for the length of their current contracts. You saw what happened at the Super Bowl, right? Every question pointed to Eli was about Peyton's neck and his recovery ... even though Eli was playing for a Super Bowl. It would be magnified in the Big Apple.

And don't think Manning doesn't see a parallel to Brett Favre with the Jets option either. Look at the way he's handled his business thus far; looking like Favre is the last thing he wants.


Vegas Odds: N/A
Actual Line: N/A
Everyone's sleeping on Pete Carroll! That terrifies me to no end. Look, there are plenty of reasons why this doesn't make sense. There's no guaranteed running game (Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are both free agents), the offensive line's young and injury-prone thus far and Sidney Rice is the best receiving option.

But the defense is good in Seattle, the coach is enthusiastic, and as we note with the Cardinals below, the NFC West is a much better path to the Super Bowl than a lot of other spots. There are also plenty of offensive skill-position guys available in free agency, so it's possible the Seahawks could convince Peyton to take snaps in Seattle and then let him play pied piper for other talented players.


Vegas Odds: 20%
Actual Line: N/A
We have to talk about it, you know? Bovada's not offering a betting line on this, but this is the most-likely scenario according to RJ Bell, as Vegas' odds give it a 20 percent chance.

I don't buy it ... but only for this year. Even if -- hypothetically speaking -- there are still reports about Manning only being able to sling his noodle to the right side of the field when March 13 comes around and -- somehow -- no one signs him, he'll keep rehabbing the entire season, getting healthy and will get a call from someone with an injured quarterback midway through the year. Last year there was a waiver scramble for Kyle Orton and the Bears actually considering calling Favre.

Manning would get a job, worst case, by November. Which is precisely why someone like the Redskins would go ahead sign him anyway, regardless of how healthy he is.


Vegas Odds: 14%
Actual Line: 3/1
Here's a theory I meant to throw out there during Super Bowl week: Jim Irsay and Peyton are punking everyone. They're having fun with everyone by acting like they hate each other, even though they have a master plan in place. Irsay will not pick up Manning's option on March 8, allowing him to become a free agent. But then Manning will re-sign with the Colts as a free agent, allowing them to limit the cap damage his contract does. He would still have $10.4 million in dead cap space if they don't pick up the option, which still gives them something like $18 million to work with.

The Colts can make his new contract cap-friendly and incentive-laden, and let Peyton finish his career as a Colt. They can also draft Andrew Luck or, if Luck decides to make a stink about playing behind Peyton, trade the pick or draft Robert Griffin, III.

There are reasons why this makes no sense: the actual disdain between Irsay and Peyton, the distraction that Peyton's situation was to Eli in the Super Bowl, Peyton's unwillingness to take less money to play for the same team and the Colts need to rebuild all the way, to name a few. But we're still throwing it out there.


Vegas Odds: 3%
Actual Line: 2.5/1

Vegas doesn't like this option, but it makes a lot of sense to me. They need to do work on the offensive line, but those problems can be addressed through free agency and the draft. Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald, a top-five wideout in the NFL, who somehow managed to catch 170 passes for 2,548 yards with John Skelton, Max Hall and Kevin Kolb under center the last two years. They have Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams in the backfield and a defense that came on strong at the end of 2011.

The Cardinals also play in a division that's conquerable right away; the NFC West might pose the path of least resistance when it comes to obtaining a Super Bowl. Arizona's lacked a franchise quarterback since Kurt Warner retired two years ago, and don't think Fitzgerald wouldn't welcome this move with open arms.

The Kurt Warner parallel here is perfect for Manning, even if Warner's path to Arizona was much different than Manning's would be.

Shanahan and Peyton together: What could go wrong? (Getty Images)


Vegas Odds: 17%
Actual Line: 2.5/1
No surprise here, but Vegas likes the Redskins a lot. After all, it's the Redskins. They throw big money at the biggest names, and no name in the history of free agency would be bigger than Peyton Manning. (I agree with Mike Freeman that Reggie White was a bigger free agent, but only because he wasn't an unknown. But Peyton's a bigger "name.")

The Redskins also think they're one piece away from making a run in the NFC East, even though they lack a lot more than just a quarterback. Who's Peyton throwing to? Who's running the ball behind Peyton? Who's protecting Peyton? WHY IS KYLE SHANAHAN ROLLING HIM OUT TO THE RIGHT?

But seriously: Mike and Kyle Shanahan have an offensive system that is absolutely tailored to a guy like RG3. They should make their all-in move on draft day, hop the Browns and grab the Baylor quarterback. He would be an instant superstar in Shanny's system and, in my opinion, more effective than Peyton for Washington in 2012. Of course, having said all that, this is Dan Snyder's team. Don't count them out to grab Peyton.


Vegas Odds: 20%
Actual Line: 3/1
The Dolphins are everyone's favorite, and it makes good sense. They have a blossoming running game and with Manning under center, Reggie Bush would only be more effective. They have talented wide receivers, with Brandon Marshall holding No. 1 potential. (Davonne Bess ain't no slouch, and Bush is a fantastic receiving option as well.)

They have a franchise left tackle in Jake Long. They have a talented defense, with only a limited number of free agents that need re-signing. They have an owner who wants to sexy-up the offense and bring in celebrities to the stadium. No one is, um, sexier than Peyton Manning. (And Stephen Ross is "infatuated" with him, reportedly. Me-ow.)

Manning owns a condo in South Beach. He'd get to play his top rival, Tom Brady, twice a year. He'd also get a ridiculously easy schedule in 2012, as outside the AFC East the Dolphins play the Jaguars, Titans, Rams, Seahawks, Raiders, Texans, 49ers, Cardinals and Bengals.

Oh right, one more team: the Colts. In Indy. It's all a little too perfect.

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Since: Oct 7, 2007
Posted on: February 11, 2012 7:39 pm

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

hahaha Virtual you are pathetic.. youre missing what these people see in the dolphins? #3 Rushing D behind Baltimore and SF.. #6 in Scoring D.. and lets see.. your KC Chiefs gave them their first win.  I believe the score was 31-3 Miami.. Miami Defense looks great there and KC defense looks terrible. Oh and that awful RB Reggie Bush had 142 total yards and a touchdown. 

Some people have no clue about anything and you are one of them. Next time before you try to make a claim check out some stats first! Miami is by far closer to winning than KC and I think everyone outside of you would agree.

Since: Dec 22, 2011
Posted on: February 11, 2012 3:55 pm

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

What am I missing with the Dolphins?  Everyone of these writers says a good young defense...REALLY that def last year might have been young it wasn't good...depending on what your definition of good is I suppose...sure they got Marshall but he can catch regardless of who throws him the ball...Bush as an RB that Guy wasn't a legitimate pro since he left USC, Kim Kardashian knew it why don't these writers lol.  In short...the Dolphins got nothin...nada, zip, zero...why would Peyton go there now lets look at oh say the chiefs...they are two or three pieces away from a dominating D once again assuming the resign Carr....they need a good NT that is young and healthy a passing down corner for the nickel/dime packages and another Safety (maybe 2 if they are lucky) and with that they will have a postseason caliber Defense...with the likes of Hali, Johnson, Carr, Flowers and Berry.  On Offense you have Charles to take a lot if not most the heat off of Manning what better way to cover any lacking that peyton may have other then with the best RB in the league...their interior line is stellar as always...lilja, hudson asamoah will be the next line of amazing big men in the game for o line perfect for I don't know running up the middle...and receivers lets look they got Bowe, Breaston, Baldwin, and at TE Moeaki and that's not including what they do or don't do in the draft at OT or WR or anything else.  Cassel is a good QB he can't play a whole season, but he's a perfect Backup that if we need it can come in and win a couple games a season rest really whos more weapons Marshal or Bowe, Breaston, Baldwin and Moeaki...I'd say the Bs have it...and with Charles who would  take Busch over Charles...even recovering from injury I doubt many would.  but the biggest turn off in KC is as the article mentions....Pioli what a Marmaduke Goober

Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: February 11, 2012 2:14 pm

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

I must admit, even living in South Florida for about ten years that I never liked the Dolphins and never pull for them, but if Peyton was their guy I would definitely change my mind.

Since: Aug 13, 2011
Posted on: February 11, 2012 1:48 pm

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

@redsman25: I don't think either of the Manning brothers would agree with that arrangement. Peyton will insist on being the starting quarterback where ever he goes or he will retire and Eli would certainly consider that a big slap in the face after taking the Giants to a Super Bowl victory. Not gonna happen. Peyton - please retire and coach somewhere.

Since: Aug 18, 2006
Posted on: February 11, 2012 12:40 pm

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

Miami has a ton of cap space and an owner who wants to spend.  Ross didnt get the big name coach he wanted in the off season, making him even more hungry to get a big name player.  Who bigger then Peyton?  And with all the FA WR's out there this year, they could grab one of them and/or another O Line to sure up the right side.  If the front runner in the afc is in fact Miami, Peyton would take them over any nfc team.  The afc is easier than the nfc and Peyton is firmilur with the afc.  He was in the old afc east, so he knows the Jets, Bills and Pats well.  And as stated in the article, Miami has a pretty easy schedule comming up this season.

Since: Aug 6, 2008
Posted on: February 11, 2012 10:33 am

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

I cannot say that Peyton would think like me but, in his position getting a big paycheck would not be the first priority. Obviously he is on his way out of football in the next five years. I would think that he would try and sign with a team that would give him an opportunity to win another title. That would mean that he would want a complete team (Espessially in the O line) making teams like the Jets and the 49ers more attractive because they are only missing one or two pieces in putting them over the top. Peyton has gotten paid and will continue to get paid, but maybe the largest check should take a backseat to working on his legacy and trying to keep up with little brother Eli in the championship department.

Since: Dec 7, 2010
Posted on: February 11, 2012 8:37 am

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

I totally agree, if he can play we will definitely take him.  Shore up our D through FA and the Draft and really compete.  I was wondering why the Broncos were not included either...

Since: Aug 13, 2011
Posted on: February 11, 2012 8:26 am

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

He should retire and not risk further injury. Instead, go to Atlanta and be their quarterbacks coach. Matt Ryan can use the help.

Since: Feb 7, 2011
Posted on: February 11, 2012 12:38 am

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

Good read, I agree with those who said Manning should retire. Maybe he can go into coaching.

Since: Dec 17, 2011
Posted on: February 10, 2012 11:23 pm

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

He should retire. Based on all of the latest reports, it sounds like he will be a shell of his former self. Another big hit and he could be crippled. He has nothing left to prove, he should retire.

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