The farewell press conference went off without a hitch. It was typical Peyton Manning, saying all the right things as normal, closely chosen words that hit the hearts of many and closed his speech like the class act and future Hall of Famer that he is. A deeply heartfelt speech that moved all that were in attendance, watching televisions across America, and those that watched the replay on every sports network known to mankind.
The legend, Peyton Manning, closed the Indianapolis Colts chapter of his playing career, expecting the possibility or opportunity to finish out his career on another club, with the hopes of leading them, whomever it will be, to the promised land, better known as the Super Bowl. The possible landing spots could be almost any team, but the most likely candidates are the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins, New York Jets or the Seattle Seahawks.
I feel Miami is the best landing spot for several reasons:
1. Stephen Ross, the Dolphins’ majority owner, wants to win right now, and signing Manning would accomplish two things in his mind: bring immediate success on the field and an instant fan attraction, which will force ticket sales to skyrocket and will drive revenue.
2. They have several Blue players offensively (playmakers/difference-makers): Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, running back Reggie Bush, tackle Jake Long, center Mike Pouncey, wide receiver Davone Bess, tight end Anthony Fasano and other Red players (starters and heavy contributors): guard Richie Incognito, tackle Nate Garner and wide receiver Brian Hartline.
3. 2012 free agency: Manning’s ability to recruit unrestricted free agents like wide receivers Reggie Wayne or Pierre Garcon will give them instant firepower to go along with Marshall.
4. Current Dolphins defensive players played well last year, despite trailing in almost every game of the 2011 season. With Manning and the extra weapons on offense, playing with a lead will allow this young aggressive defense to pin their ears back and punish opposing quarterbacks.
5. The weather: While the Dolphins don’t play in a dome, the average temperature from July through January is 80 degrees with high humidity until mid-October.
6. A new head coach that will allow the Manning offense to be installed until he decides to retire. That might delay the progress of a young draft pick, but who better to learn from?
Manning will draw a lot of attention from the Arizona Cardinals because of their versatile stadium (retractable roof in the desert) along with Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. There will also likely be the deep pockets of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who will offer him tons of cash and the chance to play for Super Bowl winning coach Mike Shanahan. Then there is New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, who is dancing his last hoorah and needs to win now. There are a lot of pieces in place in New Jersey that makes the Jets an attractive stop, but what do they do with Mark Sanchez, who has steered them to two AFC Championship Games, just one game away from the Super Bowl?
The Manning domino effect could slow Matt Flynn’s movement in free agency, and detour several of the trade partners in the 2012 NFL draft when it comes to team’s positioning to jump up the board in a trade for the Rams No. 2 overall pick.
The Cleveland Browns recognize that this draft has a record number of underclassmen (players with eligibility remaining) coming out (65), and feel they can sit and pick with the fourth and 22nd selections and get two impact players to surround quarterback Colt McCoy with Blue players. While the Redskins need a quarterback in a bad way, Robert Griffin III could be there at the sixth pick (I’m not even sure they really love him). If not, Texas A&M signal-caller Ryan Tannehill, who I feel is the third-best quarterback in the draft and not far behind RG3, is more the pure passer and athletic quarterback, with a huge upside, that Shanahan covets more.
For the Manning domino effect to send a ripple through the NFL, he must first pass a physical and be declared fit to play another game in the league. If and when that happens, watch the dominos fall not only in free agency but see the effect it will have on the 2012 Draft, when it comes to trades early in the first round.