Manning circus in full swing
Peyton Watch has officially begun as Manning decides where to continue his career. (BRENT SMITH/Reuters file photo)
It was kinda funny. Or just ridiculous, depending on how you view these things.
The NFL Network on Tuesday sent correspondents to what appear to be Peyton Manning's Final Four possible destinations. And all day long they provided live reports, in succession.
According to the guy in Miami, the Dolphins think they're still in it!
According to the guy in Denver, the Broncos think they're still right in the thick of it!
According to the gal in Phoenix, the Cardinals think they still have a great shot!
And according to the guy in Tennessee, the Titans are still a prime candidate!
But until His Royal Highness publicly scratches one or more off his list, or picks a new team to join, who's to know? Nobody.
Thus, we have to endure this stuff.
But there actually were a few interesting developments by mid-Tuesday evening on Peyton Watch, as His Royal Highness awaited his fourth, and presumably final, team meeting. Manning was expected to hook up with the Titans head coach Mike Munchak and his offensive coaches Tuesday evening, or more likely Wednesday.
Breathless "Denver is leading!" reports have been popping up since Manning visited there on Friday and Saturday, and Tuesday night the Denver Post's Mike Klis cited "multiple NFL sources" in reporting that the Broncos are in Manning's top two. Sounds credible.
The strangest development Tuesday occurred in Miami.
The Dolphins sent Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for a couple of draft picks.
If the Fish still really do believe they can sign Manning, then why did they go and trade away their No. 1 wide receiver?
That's supposed to entice a superstar quarterback?!
Oh, but no. That's not the right way to look at it at all, Miami-fans-drunk-with-optimism insist.
Rather, it's this: Manning didn't want the whiny, throw-it-only-to-me-me-me wide receiver on the Dolphins when he joins. This move clears the way.
But even if that's the case, getting only a pair of third-rounders for Marshall was dumb.
On top of that, it came out Tuesday that the Dolphins are as hot as the Cleveland Browns to sign the next best free-agent QB available, Matt Flynn. They should be, if Manning snubs them.
What do they do if it's poop/pot time with Flynn, but Manning's still on the pot?
What they do is sign Flynn in a heartbeat, or they'll be in a whole lot of poop, that's what.
The very last thing Dolphins owner Stephen Ross can do is blow it with both of those quarterbacks.
Flynn might not be any better than last year's temp starter, Matt Moore, but Ross just can't afford another PR defeat or he'll have to tarp off half of Sun Life Stadium.
Which leads us back to Peyton's place of mind.
He's certainly trying to be diplomatic and even-handed with his primary suitors. His meetings and tours on the weekend in Denver and Phoenix were practically carbon copies. Seems the same is true of his apparent coaches-only meetings this week with the Dolphins and Titans.
Here's our Tuesday night take, after perusing the Twittersphere, transaction wire and other assorted tea leaves:
- The Dolphins? Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network now joins the growing chorus in doubting that Manning will choose Miami. We're beginning to agree.
- The Cardinals? In their struggles to get under the $120.6-million salary cap, they further weakened their already pathetic offensive line by dumping tackle Levi Brown. Think Peyton wants to have to watch his back as well as his sore neck? Me neither.
- The Titans? Developing. Might just be doing it out of courtesy to all his fans back in the Rocky Top state.
- And finally, the Broncos? The team brass loves Manning, perhaps even more than the love they publicly professed for Tim Tebow right up until last week.
If Manning indeed decides in the next couple of days to head to Mile High Stadium then, if nothing else, three of the NFL Network correspondents can fly home.
49ers MYSTERY MANNING TEAM?
Crazy theory time on Peyton Manning.
Everyone figured he was going to choose a team by Tuesday, right? Didn't happen by 10 p.m. EDT, anyway.
So what if he was waiting for something else to develop?
Say, a development with another team that has kept out of the Peyton pursuit? A team that had gone to such far lengths to support its own embattled quarterback that it had to save face and "try" to re-sign him right up until Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline?
And now that that deadline has come and gone with no deal and that QB is now a free agent, well, that team needs a great quarterback - to go with its league-best defence. To go with the league's most dynamic tight end. And to throw passes to its newly signed, Hall of Famer-to-be deep threat receiver.
We're talking, of course, about the San Francisco 49ers.
Too crazy? Probably. But who knows?