|It's early, but the race for Manning appears to be down to three teams. (AP)|
By Ryan Wilson
CBSSSports.com's Will Brinson did the heavy lifting Friday, handicapping the possible landing spots for Peyton Manning in 2012. No matter who's making the list, the Dolphins, Redskins and Jets seem to be the early frontrunners.
Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann is on record saying that the 'Skins don't need Manning but that puts him squarely in the minority.
The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg has made it his mission to transcribe every Manning-to-Washington-related television or radio conversation, and on Thursday, it was ESPN's Chris Mortensen's turn. He was talking about -- shocker -- Manning, the Redskins came up, as did Theismann's objections.
“Well, I love Joe, but I think that’s just silly,” Mortensen said via Steinberg. “I mean, if we were in the same room, I’m sure we’d have this debate anyway. Why would that be a horrific idea? I think he alluded to that being a band-aid. Well, listen, they need to win. They’re in a very competitive division in the NFC East. And if you’ve got Mike Shanahan, who’s an offensive mind that certainly Peyton Manning would have high regard for, and you’ve got an owner who will go out and get players around you, two or three more players…."
Mortensen says a lot of things, not all of them accurate, but he's right about Manning's regard for Shanahan. Steinberg dug up this three-year-old quote from the Denver Post:
“I would be hard-pressed to find a better offensive mind that Mike Shanahan,” Manning said in February 2009. “I had him [during the Pro Bowl], and that was a special week. They fired Phil Fulmer in Tennessee and, you know, just be careful. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Now Coach Dungy retired. But I think there’s a lot of good football coaches out there, and I think Mike Shanahan is one of the best of them.”
So there's that. Whether that's enough to entice Manning to play for the Redskins is another matter entirely.
The Post's Sally Jenkins writes that "Shanahan is the only head coach in the market for Manning’s services who can say he’s won two Super Bowls, and knows how to work with a fully formed Hall of Famer. He can also say he has made real strides in rebuilding, despite the Redskins’ record."
As for the former, most critics would point to John Elway, not Shanahan, as the reason for the Broncos' two Super Bowls. And the latter is a stretch by any measure; maybe the Redksins have made incremental improvements under Shanahan but let's be honest: he wasn't hired to take a four-win team to the heights of 6-10 and 5-11.
John Feinstein, Jenkins' colleague at the Post, doesn't share her optimism. In fact, he's of the opinion (like a lot of people), that there's only one reason Manning would come to Washington. To quote Randy Moss: straight cash, homey.
“You’re 36 years old, you’ve got a major neck problem, you probably only have so many hits left in you," Feinstein said recently during an radio appearance. "Why would you go to a team with a questionable at best offensive line, where the guy who’s most important to you sat out the last four games because he tested positive for recreational drugs, an organization that is constantly in flux?
“Other than Dan Snyder going into his wallet and giving him guaranteed money where other people are more likely to give him an incentive-laden contract, I can’t think of a single reason why Peyton Manning would want to come here," Feinstein continued. "...The only reason Peyton Manning would come to Washington would be if the money was so much better than anybody else. Because no matter how much these guys make, no matter how much they have made, it is still about money, not only because they want to put it in their bank account, but because it’s an ego thing like it is with everybody.”
The Redskins have been much better about avoiding high-priced soon-to-be-washout free agents in recent years. History suggests they should steer clear of Manning, too. We just wonder if Snyder's impulsiveness will get the best of him.
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