With the latest update on the Peyton manning saga, being that he would be willing to accept an incentive based contract just hitting the headlines, I thought now was the ideal time to assess the options Peyton has.. This of course, providing his health checks out, and he's 100% for the new season.
Here's why I think that despite half the league undoubtedly being interested in acquiring him, Miami have as good a chance as any of being the team that lands Peyton Manning to be their quarterback.
Indianapolis Colts - Starting with his current team, every piece of news regarding the Colts seems to indicate a clear desire to 'look to the future' with the team likely to draft Andrew Luck and part ways with veterans such as Robert Mathis and Reggie Wayne. The colts may decide to keep Peyton for the remainder of a career to act as a mentor for their future franchise quarterback, however would Peyton be willing to do this? And would Jim Irsay be willing to pay two franchise quarterbacks? Irsay has stressed that salary cap isn't an issue but everything so far points to Peyton being expendable in the colts long term ambitions.
Miami Dolphins - Despite the farcical nature of the Dolphins organisation behind the scenes, the team actually possesses a very strong roster. The offense has explosive weapons in Brandon Marshall and Reggie bush with Jake long and Davone Bess also being nice pieces. The defence also displayed improvements throughout the season however the unit generally faded off in the 4th quarter. The hiring of new head coach Joe philbin will also play a role in Peyton's decision and even though this is percieved as a negative, it will enable peyton to place his imprint on the offense without coming into conflict with an established head coach with a system already being in place. South Florida is also said to be a place which Peyton very much likes, he owns a condo there and this has to play a part in his decision. The dolphins cap is limited, however Stephen ross has stressed the importance of finding a franchise quarterback, so even if it means both soliai and langford leave this off-season, expect Ross to throw everything he has to get his QB. The only question mark about the Dolphins, is whether or not Peyton will be comfortable working under Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland, if the answers Yes, then I very much see the dolphins being a strong possibility.
New York Jets - Don't get me wrong, the jets probably possess a stronger overall roster than the Dolphins, but that's where the positives end. The team is in disarray, with players throwing each other under the bus and a loud-mouth coach that has finally displayed his inability to cope with a 'down year'. Does Peyton really want to play for a team in a worse state of meltdown than the Dolphins? The location could be looked at in two ways, he may want to move to New york to be 'closer' to his brother, or he may not want to steal the spotlight from his younger brother. The jets are also extremely cap limited, even if they could afford to sign Peyton, it would ensure a severe hit to the talent level of the Jets roster.
Arizona Cardinals - This is the team that provides the biggest competition to the dolphins. They have an elite wide reciever in Larry Fitzgerald and overall are a team that are a legitimate super bowl team with a proven quarterback at the helm, they've lost vital pieces since their last super bowl run but with the fresh intake of exciting rookie prospects such as Patrick peterson, the cardinals would undoubtedly be a super bowl contender once again with Peyton Manning as their starting quarterback. The kevin kolb factor will also play a part, are the team willing to move on from their quarterback they invested so heavily in after one season? The 7 year 60million contract won't disappear, both are questions which plague the Cardinals front office, but if their interest is there, then it will no doubt be mutual.
San Francisco 49ers - Ok the cardinals may not be the biggest threat IF the 49ers are interested in acquring Peyton Manning. The major question is whether or not they WOULD be interested. The fact peyton is willing to accept an incentive based contract would intrigue the 9ers, but is Harbaugh willing to move on from the quarterback who has shown clear signs of progression and guided his team to the nfc championship game in Alex Smith? If the answer is Yes, and that's a big IF, then the 49ers definitley become the front runners in securing Peyton Manning's services.
Washington Redskins - Dan Snyder no doubt possesses large pockets, but is Peyton willing to play in the same division as his younger brother? The even bigger question is whether or not Peyton values Money over the existing talent level on the team, and from what has been said so far, I think we know the answer to that. Snyder may be able to give out the biggest contract, but the team he is taking over is off more importance to peyton. The defence is definitley very strong, but the lack of a legitimate #1 reciever or running back will affect Peyton's decision.
Other Possibilities - Would the ravens be willing to bypass Joe Flacco? The team would definitley be appealing to Peyton, the front office led by Ozzie Newsome is about as good as it gets in the NFL, and will surely make the ravens super bowl contenders. The Browns and Jaguars also definitley need a quarterback but is the talent level or excitement factor enough to allure Peyton manning? I doubt it.
There are also other options for Peyton, he could even end up retiring but if his health checks out, that would appear extremely unlikely. The dolphins present a team that's a quarterback away from being a super bowl contender and they have the allure of south florida. If teams with some semblance of a quarterback already on their roster, such as San Francisco or Baltimore, don't display an interest in Peyton Manning then I think miami is most definitley the next best alternative. Whether they are willing to part ways with their respective quarterbacks is another story, and we should probably say goodbye to the idea of Peyton as our starting quarterback. BUT if not, I honestly believe we could see THE Peyton Manning in a Miami Dolphins Uniform next season..