The Peyton Manning saga has been one of the more compelling stories happening behind the scenes this year in the NFL and the 2011 season sans the Colts as a contender was a little strange. What happens with the future hall-of-famer now is even more interesting and the speculation is only likely to grow as we near the end of the league year and the start of free agency.
I'm not going to go into too much detail here on all the particulars because you've probably already read it, but the way the cards have fallen, it's no longer looking like an impossibility that Peyton Manning and the Colts will simply decide to part ways, amicably. If he is released, he'll hit the free agent market and can sign with any team that has interest, and I can imagine a lot of teams would be like the chance to have a guy like Peyton leading their offense.
Now, as a Seahawks fan, this is where it gets interesting. As Jason La Canfora wrote today:
Peyton's all about winning, and the Colts just don't have the makeup of a contender anymore. Even if Manning returns to health -- a big if, at this point -- would Indy really be back to hanging with the Patriots, Ravens and Steelers among the AFC elite in 2012? Not likely. Which brings us to potential landing spots for Peyton in free agency.
We've reported in the past that other general managers and executives identified Arizona and Seattle as places that Manning would be interested in. Both teams could obviously use an upgrade at the quarterback position, and both have rising young defenses, along with run games that made strides this season. The Cardinals have a game-breaking receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, and Sidney Rice can be a weapon in Seattle if he can just stay healthy. Both teams are in a division that has traditionally been weak (though the rise of the Niners changes that a bit). And just like Peyton's current home, neither city has an overwhelming media presence. The Seahawks have been a heavy spending team.
Now, I'm not going to put much stock into what these alleged GMs and executives are reporting and whether or not they're remotely true or just pure speculation - who the hell knows, really, but when you step back and look at the situation, I don't think I can really blame Manning if he did indeed have an interest. Like La Canfora wrote, the NFC West, though more competitive this season, is relatively devoid of powerhouse teams and though the 49ers dominated this year, they still don't have an elite QB on their roster and likely won't next season either. Not saying they won't be good, but when taken in comparison to other potential divisions, the NFC West might be appealing.
It beats playing in the AFC East with the Dolphins or Jets and having to beat Tom Brady twice a year, or playing in the NFC East with the Redskins and having to beat his brother Eli, Michael Vick, or Tony Romo several times to get into the playoffs.
In the West, the Seattle Seahawks have assembled a top-10 (and potentially rising) defense, have spent a lot of draft capital and money on a shiny new offensive line (and offensive line coach) and one of the game's best young left tackles in Russell Okung to protect his blind side (which is probably the most important factor of all, and something that puts the Seahawks ahead of Arizona in that department). The Hawks have a Pro Bowl running back likely returning in Marshawn Lynch, a top level receiver in Sidney Rice and a top tight end in Zach Miller. The team from South Alaska isn't as unappealing as many might think.
Also importantly, the Seahawks also have a lot of cap room to pay the man.
Now, do I think that this will happen? Eh, no, not really. That said, I don't think it's as wild and crazy of an idea as some people would make it out to be and I don't think it would be a bad move. I heard John Clayton on the radio today talking about how the Seahawks are trying to get younger and build toward the future but I don't see how Manning's addition would hurt that. Here's why:
The Seahawks don't have an established QB on their roster - Tarvaris Jackson only has one more year on his contract after a mediocre 2011 season, and some think the Seahawks won't be drafting a QB in the first round this year anyway. If they choose to wait until the 2nd round and take a developmental player, that means the potential draft pick will need a couple of years seasoning anyway. There is no Manning/Luck style awkward situation for the Seahawks and a guy like Manning to lead your team for several years until that 'future QB' could be selected and developed buys this front office some time with ownership, the media, and with fans.
Don't forget that the Seahawks were rumored to be one of the suitors for another older, bridge style QB in Carson Palmer. I don't see this situation much different than that, other than the fact that Manning is much, much better of a player than Palmer (no offense to him of course).
Ok - so now that all that has been written - as I said, I really don't think this is going to happen, though I don't have a concrete reason other than a hunch. Still, it's an interesting thought and the fact that La Canfora is reporting that some unknown people have said that Peyton may have interest in Seattle is a little nugget of information to chew on.
The offseason and rumors!! Buckle up!!
Oh! And all this is of course assuming Peyton doesn't retire. So,... yeah.