Peyton Manning’s whirlwind free-agency tour kicked off in grand fashion Friday, complete with a chartered plane coming to pick him up and a helicopter hovering overhead as he met with the Denver Broncos.
This was only Day 1 of the adventure and it may not need to last much longer than that. Why? Because I believe Manning’s best fit may be in Denver.
Manning spent the day in Tim Tebow’s stomping grounds, chatting with the Broncos for nearly six hours. Obviously, Manning is the NFL’s marquee free agent after being released by the Indianapolis Colts two days ago.
The Broncos spared no expense for Manning’s visit, too.
According to the Denver Post, Manning was brought to Denver on a plane, which the Broncos sent for him to bring him to Denver. He spent the day with the Broncos brain trust consisting of Hall of Fame signal caller John Elway who serves as Denver’s vice president of football operations. Coach John Fox and general manager Brian Xanders along joined him as well.
Spending the first day in Denver certainly made for some interesting conversation. After all, this is a city still engulfed in Tebowmania, especially after the unorthodox quarterback led the Broncos to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
But, having Manning in for a visit raised the same question that has hovered over the team: Is Tebow a long-term solution or just a feel-good story for a season?
No, he isn’t. He isn’t now nor will he ever be. I know that, you know that, John Fox knows that, John Elway knows that, and the entire Denver Broncos organization knows that. That is exactly why the Broncos are pulling out all the stops to woo Peyton Manning and bring him to the city of Denver.
Sure, Tim Tebow was a nice story and he was fortunate enough to win games but trust me a Hall of Fame quarterback of John Elway’s caliber knows that he can’t rely on Tebow to bring the Broncos a Super Bowl.
Peyton Manning can and he will if he decides to call Denver is NFL home.
The Denver Broncos are not far all from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender. They have a top-notch defense and a fierce pass rush that can get to the quarterback consistently. Also, the Broncos are armed with explosive running game led by Willis McGahee, Lance Ball, and Knowshon Moreno who are working his way back from injury. Sure, the Broncos can use some help at wide receiver but they already have Eric Decker and Eddie Royal in the fold who will only get better by catching passes from Manning. Let’s not forget, another long time Indianapolis Colt and former teammate of Manning, Reggie Wayne who was cut by the team yesterday is rumored to land wherever Peyton does. That would be one hell of a package deal.
As for the group that will be responsible for keeping Manning upright, the Broncos offensive line is one of the more young and talented groups in the league. Peyton Manning’s center in Indianapolis, Jeff Saturday is less of a sure thing to join Manning at his next destination. Many around the league expect Saturday to retire rather than rejoin the Colts or follow Manning wherever he decides to play next.
Of course, the Broncos aren’t alone in the Manning sweepstakes. They are expected to face stiff competition from the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, and Seattle Seahawks just to name a few. Two teams that definitely are not pursuing Manning any longer are the New York Jets and Washington Redskins.
Those two teams were originally thought to be in the max for Manning’s services but just last night the Jets announced a three year contract extension with Mark Sanchez. The Redskins agreed to a blockbuster trade with the St. Louis Rams for the second pick in April’s draft. It didn’t come cheap for the Redskins, but since when has that stopped them? Washington surrendered its first-round pick this year as well as first rounders in 2013 and 2014. The Redskins are most likely going to target quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second pick.
I’m sure Peyton Manning will do his due diligence in selecting his new team but in my opinion, joining forces with John Elway is the right way to go. By doing so, he will propel himself and the Denver Broncos to new heights in the Mile High city.
I’m fully aware that Manning’s health is far from a sure thing and it will be a huge risk to commit to him financially but it’s undoubtedly a risk worth taking.
Especially when the team’s only alternative is Tim Tebow.