It’s easy for a team to claim, publicly and/or privately, that it’s not interested in Peyton Manning before Manning actually is available. But as the divorce is becoming more and more inevitable, folks apparently are reconsidering those knee-jerk reactions of non-interest.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that, at the Scouting Combine, teams that “once said they wouldn’t pursue Peyton Manning [are] now pondering that possibility.” Schefter adds that “[i]nterest in 18 is high.”
As it should be. If Manning can throw even at 60 percent of his past arm strength, he’ll be in the top half of all NFL quarterbacks. And the closer he gets to 100 percent, the closer he gets to the top of the heap.
Taking a quick look through the list of conferences and divisions, the following teams should be very interested: Bills, Dolphins, Jets, Browns, Jaguars, Titans, Chiefs (the head coach has already said the team will be), Broncos, Raiders, Redskins, Vikings, 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks.
Even teams like the Bengals, Ravens, Texans, Eagles, Bears, and Buccaneers should consider the possibility of pursuing Peyton.
NFL coaches constantly talk about having a willingness to upgrade at every position. Though tinkering with the starting quarterback can be problematic, especially if the team swings and misses and then has to love the one it’s with, the quest for championships begins and ends with a having high-level quarterback.
That’s why the Jets jettisoned Chad Pennington for Brett Favre, and why the Vikings twice told Tavaris Jackson to take a seat. Once Manning is on the market, some other guy who’s supposedly a starter will soon find himself either not atop the depth chart, or not employed.