Tag:Washington Redskins
Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:10 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 5:01 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Quarterback rankings

The 2012 free-agent quarterback class is an, um, diverse group. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling lists of the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the quarterbacks.

Though the list of free-agent quarterbacks for 2012 isn't necessarily the greatest crop of players in NFL history, it does have the potential to be one of the most intriguing in years, because of one man: Peyton Manning. Manning's saga is well-documented at this point; the back-and-forth between Manning's camp and Jim Irsay dominated the freaking Super Bowl.

Releasing him into the wild seems like a mere matter of timing. So we're going to take that assumption and add Manning to our lists of free agents. We're also including the Saints Drew Brees and 49ers Alex Smith on this list, since both are technically unrestricted free agents, until they receive the franchise tag from their respective teams. There's a better likelihood of Jimmy Clausen unseating Cam Newton than there is Brees not returning to New Orleans, but maybe someone in the Saints office will forget to fax in the franchise-tag paperwork.


Brees offseason could be interesting.  (Getty Images)

1. Drew Brees

Breakdown: The biggest problem for the Saints isn't that Brees might leave. He's not going to unless something really ridiculous happens. The biggest problem for the Saints is that if they're forced to use the franchise tag on Brees, they could end up losing Carl Nicks and Marques Colston. That won't make Brees any happier when it gets down to brass-tack negotiating.
Potential Landing Spots: Saints

2. Peyton Manning

Breakdown: Perhaps you've heard of Manning before. He's third all-time in passing yards (54,828). He's third all-time in passing touchdowns (399). He's won more MVPs than anyone in NFL history (four). And he's second in his own family with Super Bowl rings (one). That last item isn't a shot at Manning, though. It's the reason we believe he's not done when it comes to football, and that he'll come back to the game supremely motivated. No one knows whether or not he'll be fully healthy by the time the 2012 season begins. We do know he won't be fully healthy by the time March 13 rolls around, though. Which means that anyone who signs him will be engaging in a serious high-risk, high-reward game of chicken with Manning's neck.
Potential Landing Spots: Cardinals, Dolphins, Seahawks, Jets, Redskins

3. Matt Flynn

Breakdown: Flynn's attempted just 132 passes at the professional level, but 81 of them are pretty impressive. Those came in the only two starts of his career, when Flynn managed to go 55 of 81 for 731 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. There are concerns that Flynn can't make every throw (right now) and that he might be a product of Green Bay's system. But that system's in Miami now, as former Packers quarterbacks coach Joe Philbin is the Dolphins head coach. If Miami doesn't make a run at Flynn when free agency opens up, that should be a big red flag for anyone else interested in Aaron Rodgers backup.
Potential Landing Spots: Dolphins, Seahawks, Redskins

4. Alex Smith

Breakdown: Smith resurrected his career under new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and, in the span of about two playoff minutes against the Saints, nearly flipped the entire narrative of his career. As it is, Smith's improvement in 2011 is impressive; according to Pro Football Focus, he had the third-highest accuracy percentage in the NFL (factoring in drops, throwaways and spikes) last year, behind only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Smith's said he isn't interested in leaving San Francisco, and Harbaugh's gotten his back publicly, even though there's zero chance they'll use the franchise tag on him.
Potential Landing Spots: 49ers
Henne could surprise in the right spot. (Getty Images)

5. Chad Henne

Breakdown: Miami drafting a quarterback in the second round: an April tradition unlike any other! But no, seriously, Henne's in a long line of signal-callers that the Dolphins took in the second round who didn't pan out. He's had serious problems with interceptions; Henne's got a 3.5 percent INT rate over his career and only nine of his 36 NFL games have not featured him throwing a pick. And Henne tends to look particularly robotic at times in the pocket (these things go hand in hand). But he's only 26 and it's not fair to blame him for all of Miami's woes the past three years. Henne can make all the throws and flashed some serious potential at times during his tenure in South Beach. He's the highest-upside backup quarterback out there and he's got several former coaches -- Brian Daboll, Tony Sparano -- coaching in spots that could use a backup quarterback.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Jets, Broncos

6. Jason Campbell

Breakdown: It's hard not to feel sympathetic for Campbell. The former Auburn star and first-round pick has had roughly 25 offensive coordinators since he started taking snaps in college and he's about to start out on his third NFL roster once the free-agency shuffling begins anew this year. He's 30 and hasn't played a full season in the past two years, either because of injury or being benched. The latter was for Bruce Gradkowski, so it's hard to tell what's worse for his reputation. He makes a lot of sense for a team that wants someone to push their starter without making a stink in the locker room.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Eagles, Jets

NFL Free Agency

7. Kyle Orton

Breakdown: Orton's was a "winner" with the Bears, he was a stat-hog for a season with the Broncos, he flirted with the Dolphins and finally he was a streak-killer with the Chiefs. He's not going to be anyone's starter in 2011, unless Washington seriously misplays everything in free agency and the draft (not out of the question). But he's an above-average backup in the NFL and could certainly compete with the starters that various teams -- KC, Washington, Jacksonville, for example -- will trot out in 2011. Orton doesn't want to deal with being a "stop-gap option" but it's unlikely he'll have a choice next year.
Potential Landing Spots:
Redskins, Chiefs, Jaguars, Bears, Broncos

8. David Garrard

Breakdown: Pete Prisco's second-favorite quarterback missed the entire 2011 season after the Jaguars cut him and he underwent surgery for a herniated disk in his back. There was interest in the 34-year-old last year after teams lost quarterbacks to injury, but he decided to recover from the surgery instead. While that's the smart move, Garrard won't find the market as friendly for his services this time, especially since his agent said on February 15 Garrard would be ready in "four to six weeks." Expect someone with a steady starter and tenuous backup to look to Garrard.
Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Broncos, Buccaneers, Rams, Raiders

9. Shaun Hill

Breakdown: Hill's 32 and not exactly a spring chicken. But he performed admirably in place of Matthew Stafford in 2010 and the fit between he and the Lions is a nice one. The Lions are tight with cap space, but Hill appears to like where he's at, and it's not like he'd break the bank in another location anyway.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions
VY's likely to remain a backup. (Getty Images)

10. Vince Young

Breakdown: Now seems like a good time to remind you that the guy who coined "Dream Team" in Philly was indeed the backup quarterback and someone on a one-year contract. His personality and turnovers will cause a problem for teams looking to sign him. Unless that team happens to run the read-option offense and could really use a mobile quarterback with success in the NFL to step in and freelance if/when Tim Tebow gets hurt/melts down.
Potential Landing Spots: Broncos

11. Rex Grossman

Breakdown: Did you know that Rex Grossman is actually "Rex Grossman III"? Poor Mike Shanahan had RG3 on his roster the whole time and didn't even know it. Sigh. Anyway, Grossman's not going to attract a lot of attention on the market, and nor should he. As the old saying goes, though, "love the one you're with." And Grossman and the Shanahans are with each other, even if Rex isn't starting next year. It would be surprising to see him playing anywhere else in 2012.
Potential Landing Spots: Redskins

HONORABLE MENTION

Unrestricted Free Agents: Dennis Dixon, Josh Johnson, Brady Quinn, Charlie Whitehurst, Donovan McNabb, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton, Caleb Hanie, Charlie Batch, Kellen Clemens

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:52 am
 

Sherman likens Tannehill to Favre, Rodgers

New Fins OC Mike Sherman thinks Tannehill is a Favre-like leader. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

When it comes to quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft, the general consensus out there is that Ryan Tannehill is the No. 3 signal caller behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. But that doesn't mean he's doomed to falling in the draft, as there are plenty of potential suitors picking in the top half of the draft.

One such suitor, the Miami Dolphins, recently hired Tannehill's coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, as its offensive coordinator. And Sherman, speaking to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, said that Tannehill reminds him of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

"Like all good quarterbacks he had great poise. Very confident in any system, west coast or not," Sherman said of Tannehill. "Any quarterback has to be confident in his own skin and believe in himself. They always say a great quarterback makes those around him better. I thought [Brett] Favre did that. I think Aaron Rodgers does that. I think Tannehill does that as well."

We'll forgo debating the comparisons between Favre and Rodgers, made only on the premise that Tannehill is a leader. Instead, we'll point out that it was actually Sherman who moved Tannehill to wide receiver before the 2008 season. Tannehill lost out in the competition for quarterback to Stephen McGee and Jerrod Johnson and remained a wide receiver in 2009.

Tannehill caught over 100 passes for more than 1,400 yards in two years before being moved back to quarterback, and completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 5,388 yards, 42 touchdowns and 21 interceptions over the next two years.

But again: Sherman's the guy who moved him to wideout. It's impressive as hell that Tannehill was a dominant college wide receiver, and even more impressive that he transitioned back to quarterback, but if he was "like Brett Favre," the move to wide receiver is an indictment of someone here.

Oh yes, and Sherman was fired from his job as Texas A&M head coach after this past season.

Having said all that, we tend to agree that Tannehill's stock is on the rise and that he's highly unlikely to even fall towards the end of the first round. NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler slotted him as high as sixth to the Redskins in the latest 2012 NFL Mock Draft. (Rob Rang has Tannehill going 22nd overall to the Browns.)

But if new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin feels the same way about Matt Flynn as Sherman apparently feels about Tannehill, it won't matter much that the Dolphins OC is that interested in his former wideout/quarterback protégé.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:07 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 9:59 am
 

What players will get franchise tagged in 2012?

Brees reportedly won't be happy if he gets tagged. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday February 20, NFL teams can begin to apply the franchise tag to players. They can do so up until March 5 at 4 p.m. ET. For those that don't know, the franchise tag is a method of keeping players from hitting the open market. Previously, the franchise-tag number was generated by averaging the top-five salaries at a position to determine a number for that position.

This year, the franchise tag value will be a percentage of the overall salary cap figure for the previous five years. As such, NFL.com (the league's official website, making the figures trustworthy, one would hope) the following figures, plus figures from last year that we've included:

Position 2012 Franchise Tag Value*
2011 Franchise Tag Value
Quarterback
$14.4 million $16.1 million
Running Back
$7.7 million $9.6 million
Wide Receiver
$9.4 million $11.4 million
Tight End
$5.4 million $7.3 million
Offensive Line
$9.4 million $10.1 million
Defensive End
$10.6 million $13 million
Defensive Tackle
$7.9 million $12.5 million
Linebacker
$8.8 million $10.1 million
Cornerback
$10.6 million $13.5 million
Safety
$6.2 million $8.8 million

*The only instances this doesn't apply: when a player already made more than the franchise-tag value, or when a player receives the franchise tag for the second-straight year, in which case tagging said player would cost 120 percent of their previous base salary.

Aside from the asterisked exception above, it's clearly much more cost effective to utilize the franchise tag on a player in 2012 than it was in 2011. Wide receivers like DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and Marques Colston might not be tag candidates at $11.4 million. At $9.4 million, they certainly are.


With all of that in mind, let's look at some possible franchise-tag candidates, in order of likelihood to be tagged.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees, Marques Colston or Carl Nicks

The Saints are all but guaranteed to use their franchise tag. Brees is a free agent and there is a zero percent chance that they let him walk into free agency. This is an absolute zero; losing Brees would not only be a disaster for the franchise in terms of winning, it would result in riots on Bourbon Street.

Various reports have emerged about where Brees and the Saints stand. (His agent, Tom Condon, is involved in a small contract situation surrounding Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.) As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last week, "the road could be rockier than initially thought" when getting Brees a new deal.

If the Saints can't get a deal done by the tag deadline, they will use the tag on Brees and sort out a deal later. If they can negotiate a deal with Brees before then, either Colston or Nicks will likely get tagged. My money's on Nicks, who could be a steal at less than $10 million given his age and his performance on the interior line the last two years.
DeSean might finally catch that money. (Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson

Reports are already rolling in that Jackson will be tagged and that the team will seek to trade him once they place the tag on Jackson. Philly better be comfortable rolling with D-Jax if they can't find a suitor, though, because the wide receiver is a good bet to swoop in and sign his tender quickly. The $9.4 million represents more than triple what Jackson's made in his entire career thus far, and you can bet he'd like to see some guaranteed money.

Worst case, of course, is that Philly ends up giving its top playmaker one more "contract year" at turning in a big performance before hitting free agency. $9.4 million is a lot to pay for a wideout, but it's better than a) doling out a big contract to someone new and/or a malcontent, or b) letting Jackson walk for nothing in return.

Chicago Bears: Matt Forte

The rumors of Forte getting tagged began long ago as the Bears said they simply won't let him get to free agency. And they can't: Mike Tice replaced Mike Martz, but that could mean Chicago becoming more dependent on Forte's skills as a rusher and pass-catcher.

Forte said he's OK with the franchise tag provided it leads to further contract negotiations. Those appear to be more successful this time around, without Jerry Angelo on the other side of the table. But if Forte struggles early in his return from injury (an MCL sprain) things could get dicey.

Regardless, he's a steal at $7.7 million in 2012.

Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice

Another no-brainer for the team here: Rice is one of the most dynamic backs in football and accounted for a large chunk of the Ravens offense. Rice's league-leading 2,068 yards from scrimmage accounted for 38.2 percent of the Ravens 5,419 yards, to be exact.

Rice lead the team in rushing ... and receptions. The Ravens need him and it's unfathomable that they'd let Rice walk. He probably won't be happy about playing for $7.7 million in 2012 and it seems obvious that Ozzie Newsome would like to lock down a guy who's averaged just shy of 2,000 yards from scrimmage in the three years he's been a starter for the team.
Will Welker's drop hurt his value? (Getty Images)

New England Patriots: Wes Welker

Welker's taken a lot of grief for his now-infamous drop in the Super Bowl. But just because the guy missed one catch doesn't mean we should forget what he's done for the past five years in New England: Welker averaged 111 catches and 1,221 yards per season since arriving from Miami.

Here's where it gets interesting though: Welker will be 31 when 2012 begins. He's considered a "slot" receiver. But he reportedly wants to be paid like an "elite" receiver. (It's, uh, kind of hard to blame him.) Lots of people think Welker wouldn't be as successful without the Patriots system, but how successful would the Patriots be without Welker?

In other words, we might be headed to an old-fashioned standoff, where the Pats use the franchise tag on Welker (it's all but certain they will, mainly to avoid him landing with an AFC East rival), and Welker refusing to play. Our Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard's speculated as much previously, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Welker sit out the first few weeks if the Pats aren't willing to give him a long-term deal.

Washington Redskins: Fred Davis

Davis had a big year in 2011, catching 59 passes for 796 yards in just 12 games (with Rex Grossman and John Beck throwing him the ball). He missed four games when he was suspended under the NFL's substance-abuse policy. But that actually works in Washington's favor here, since they can commit just $5.5 million to Davis without any fear of long-term blowback.

Buffalo Bills: Stevie Johnson

I spoke with Johnson at the Super Bowl and he said he'd be amenable to playing under the franchise tag in 2012. And it's hard to imagine Buffalo letting one of the more talented and underrated receivers in the game simply walk away. Johnson, depending on the market, could be one of the top wide receivers available.

Given the nature of Buffalo's weapons on offense, $9.4 million isn't all that steep for someone who's produced as steadily as Johnson has over the past two seasons. He took a small step back in receptions, yardage and touchdowns in 2011, but part of that can be attributed to the injuries to Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Bills late-season swoon.

And if he's willing to ditch the penalty-inflicting celebrations? He's worth it.

Bowe's a fan favorite in KC -- for good reason.(Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe or Brandon Carr

This is quite the conundrum for KC: does new coach Romeo Crennel, recently promoted from defensive coordinator, push to keep the 25-year-old defensive back, or does he sit back while the franchise lets Carr walk and hangs onto it's top wideout?

Bowe quietly put together another monster season in 2011, catching nine more balls than he did in 2010 and only three yards less. Granted, he found the end zone 10 times less this past season, but chalk that up to the Chiefs stupid-easy schedule against the pass in 2010. Oh yeah, and because he was catching balls from Tyler Palko for a quarter of the season.

Bowe's a better value at his franchise cost ($1 million less) I suppose, but Carr will be harder to retain in free agency, because of the nature of cornerbacks on the open market.

Atlanta Falcons: Brent Grimes or Curtis Lofton

The Falcons, not so quietly, have a ton of guys up for free agency this year. Grimes, Lofton, defensive ends John Abraham and Kroy Biermann and center Todd McLure lead the list. One of Grimes or Lofton surely will get the franchise tag.

For the same reason as listed with the Chiefs, Grimes makes the most sense -- he'll simply be harder to retain in free agency. Lofton would be $2 million cheaper but Grimes is more important to the Falcons defense. A logical move might be to feel out contract negotiations with both players (provided the Falcons want to keep both of them anyway), work out an extension with one as quickly as possible, franchise the other defender and look to cut a deal with them down the road.
It's hard to put a price on Avril's pass rush. (Getty Images)

Detroit Lions: Cliff Avril

Avril's made no bones about the possibility of being franchised, and isn't happy with the notion. But the franchise tag actually doesn't exist simply to keep a guy around for another year without paying him big money. It's to keep a guy around while you work out a long-term contract.

That's what Avril, who will turn 26 in April, wants, and it should be what the Lions want too, given their dependence on a strong pass rush on the defensive end of things. At $10.6 million he would provide nice value. Provided he played the whole season anyway.

Indianapolis Colts: Robert Mathis

Chuck Pagano's a defensive guy, and even though he's coming into a rebuilding project, it's hard to see he and general manager Ryan Grigson passing on a shot to keep a talented pass-rusher like Mathis around for one more year at a reasonable rate.

Mathis probably said it himself over the weekend on Twitter when he noted that "The #TAG is an honor but personally if i was tagged now id feel they didnt want me but just have not found my replacement yet." Prepare to be honored sir.

Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Spencer

According to one report out of Texas, the Cowboys are at least considering franchising Spencer. The logic isn't that the outside linebacker, drafted 26th overall in 2007, is a monster and worth $8.8 million next year. He's not.

But Spencer might be worth holding onto if the Cowboys don't believe they can fill that spot with a reliable enough player through free agency and don't want to force themselves into selecting an outside linebacker early in the draft and forcing him to play.

Giving Spencer that sort of cash at least provides a safety net for Rob Ryan's defense.

Green Bay Packers: Jermichael Finley

Finley's case is a fascinating one. At $5.5 million, the tight end is a no-doubt-about-it franchise tag choice. But what about at $9.4 million? I ask because Finley's reportedly ready to argue that he's actually more of a wide receiver than a tight end, based on the number of snaps he takes from a wide receiver position. (He may want to remove the words "best tight ends in the league" from his website then.)

The Packers don't seem ready to give Finley a long-term deal yet, but they're also not willing to let him go. That tune could change if Finley's awarded the same price as a wide receiver in arbitration.
Wallace's RFA status is a concern. (Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Wallace

Wallace is actually on a restricted free agent, but as Wilson pointed out on Tuesday's podcast, there's been a lot of discussion in Steelers-land about the possibility of using the full-blown franchise tag on Wallace regardless of his status.

Here's some hypothetical logic: the Steelers use the non-exclusive tag on Wallace, the Patriots, with two first-round picks in the coming draft, negotiate a deal with Wallace and force the Steelers to match said deal or take one of the picks from the Pats. The pick isn't that high and Wallace is a stud, so Pittsburgh, who wants to lock down Wallace anyway, would be letting the Pats (or whomever) negotiate for them.

Lest you think this is silly, look no further than a guy we already talked about: Welker. The Patriots obtained him via trade, but only after the Dolphins used the restricted tag on Welker. After they did, the Pats negotiated with Welker to work in a provision in his contract that would include a monster bonus if he played X games in the state of Florida (AKA "a poison pill"). The Dolphins caved and simply dealt Welker to the Pats instead of trying to play chicken.

The downside is that the Steelers would be forced to paying $7 million extra in 2012 for their No. 1 wideout. The upside is not getting poison-pilled by an AFC rival who'll then hijack the Steelers for the deep threat they need. Hypothetically speaking of course.

Oakland Raiders: Michael Bush

The idea of paying Bush more than Darren McFadden's been bandied about, and it makes sense given Run-DMC's injury history. It doesn't make sense when you consider that new GM Reggie McKenzie would suddenly have a ton of money committed to two running backs. But here's an idea: tag Bush, trade McFadden and then give Bush a new contract. You keep him off the market, you recoup some of those Carson Palmer draft picks and you keep the back best suited for Greg Knapp's zone-rushing attack.

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:00 pm
 

John Beck believes he deserves another chance

Beck

By Josh Katzowitz

You’ve got to love John Beck. Not for the way he plays the game (he did lose the starting quarterback race to Rex Grossman at the start of last year before losing it again in the middle of 2011) or his winning percentage (he’s 0-7 in his career as a starter).

No, you’ve got to love Beck’s confidence because even though he’s been passed over plenty of times before for Grossman and even though the Redskins almost surely will find a new quarterback in the offseason, he still believes he should be Washington’s starter.

"I feel without a doubt I can be a better quarterback. I told our coaches this at the end of the season. I went into coach (Mike) Shanahan's office and said, 'I want to play right now,’” said Beck during an interview with 97.5 The Zone (via Hogs Haven). “This is very frustrating for me to have had my opportunity, to made the most of it when he put me in, I made the most of it, but the games following it didn't go the way we wanted. It's tough for me to say now I'm not playing. I'm like ‘Coach, I want to play because having that experience I know I can play better.’ And he said, ‘I know you can too, but right now we're in this situation. There'll be another opportunity down the road and you just got to make sure you're ready for it.’ So, there's where my mindset is at.”

What to do with Washington's QBs?
Even with Beck’s feelings, the Redskins seemed poised to land a quarterback this offseason. There has been talk that Washington will try to trade with the Rams to land the No. 2 spot in April’s draft so the Redskins (presumably) can take Robert Griffin III, but the problem with that scenario is that the Browns, with the No. 4 pick, also might want to trade up to No. 2.

Plus, in order to tempt St. Louis, the Redskins would have to put together quite a package to move up from the No. 6 spot.

If the draft fails, they could go after Packers free agent quarterback Matt Flynn, who is most likely at the peak of his earning powers based on two outlandishly good performances in the past two seasons. But Washington also has to ask itself this question: is the unknown of Flynn better than the known Grossman and Beck?

Beck, of course, would answer that question with a resounding no.

"I believe there will be another opportunity," Beck said. "When it comes, I have no control over it.”

No matter what he wants to believe, there’s a pretty good chance that Beck’s time will never come again. At least not with the Redskins.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 9:01 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 11:12 am
 

Would Peyton to 'Skins only be about the money?

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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Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:23 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 9:21 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Haley a good fit in Pittsburgh?

Revisiting the week that was in Indianapolis: Super Bowl XLVI. (Getty Images)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Ah, the NFL offseason. When every franchise's hopes spring eternal and stuff. Except the Steelers, who are doomed -- DOOMED, WE SAY! -- with the addition of Todd Haley as offensive coordinator. Actually, we don't say that; Ryan says that.

To calm him down, we brought on Lance Zierlein noted Houston sports savant (The Chronicle, Houston radio), co-owner of TheSidelineView.com and son of former Steelers offensive line coach Larry Zierlein to break down the hire.

Ryan and Will then fight about Haley's addition and debate who's the favorite to land Peyton Manning in 2012. They also hit all the latest NFL news fit to print.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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Posted on: February 10, 2012 9:48 am
 

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

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 Bovada.lv and/or the Vegas percentages from RJ Bell of Pregame.com.

Longshots

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%

Jets

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.

Seahawks

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.

Retirement

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.

Colts

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.

Cardinals

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)

Redskins

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.

Dolphins

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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Posted on: February 7, 2012 9:50 pm
 

Theismann doesn't think Redskins need Manning

We've seen this cartoon before: player smiles, signs for big bucks, then underperforms, hates life. (CBSSports.com illustration)

By Ryan Wilson

There were two primary storyline during Super Bowl week in Indianapolis: the Patriots-Giants matchup and the day-to-day (and sometimes hour-to-hour) Peyton Manning soap opera. The Giants won in dramatic fashion, which elicited all types of responses. Some people couldn't comprehend how the Pats receivers could drop so many passes. And others relished the fact that they played a part in beating the Giants during the regular season not once but twice.

The former, Tom Brady's super model wife Gisele Bundchen, and the latter, Redskins returner Brandon Banks, have both taken criticism for their observations. Banks went on the Mike Wise show to explain himself.

“I wasn’t bragging at all,” Banks said, according to the D.C. Sports Bog. “I was going for the Giants, I wanted a team from the NFC East to win. It made me feel better that a team that we were capable of going out there and competing with and beating, that they won a Super Bowl, something that I want to do in my career.”

Banks says he thinks the Redskins can win the Super Bowl too, but that's what he's supposed to say, even if he doesn't believe it. Whatever, the Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg unearths a staggering statistic:
With the Giants winning the Super Bowl, that means the past 12 NFL champs have a combined 52 regular-season losses. And, remarkably, a full 11.5 percent of those losses — six games in all — came at the hands of the Washington Redskins, one of the stinkiest NFL teams of the past 12 years.

No other team has as many wins over Super Bowl champs in that span. In fact, only two other teams have even four wins over Super Bowl champs in that span: Dallas and Miami.
All that's missing? Why, a quarterback, of course. And while the previous sentence can't be refuted, who should replace John Beck and Rex Grossman is still up for debate. The word on the street is that organization is "expected to pursue" Manning.

This certainly seems reasonable -- except that not everyone agrees. Take the 'Skins last franchise quarterback, Joe Theismann, for example.

“It’s not a good idea, it’s not a bad idea — It’s a horrific idea,” he said during an appearance on told 106.7 The Fan last week. “It would be one of the poorest things that we could do as a franchise. Are we gonna go find another guy for just a couple of years again? Haven’t we done this before? Haven’t we seen this act before? And by the way, if you get Peyton Manning, don’t you have a concern about protecting him? Don’t you have a concern about who he throws the football to?"

The man responsible for giving us "Norman Einstein" makes a lot of sense. Manning is a prototypical Dan Snyder free-agent acquisition: one-time great player clearly on the downside of a Hall of Fame career.

“We’re tired of looking for stop gaps,” Theismann continued. “It’s time to draft one of your own, or make a deal for a young one of your own, and nurture him, and then put the players around him. If we’re gonna be 5-11, if we’re gonna be 6-10, let’s do it with somebody who’s [learning as he goes], instead of guys that have been here, making mistakes.”

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com