Broncos, Niners, Titans: Where Does Peyton Manning Fit Best?

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You want to talk about an NFL team that feels they can win it all right now, look no further than the Jim Harbaugh led San Francisco 49ers.

49ers CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke aren’t fooling around as it appears they’ll do literally anything if they think it will help them win. Last Monday San Francisco signed free agent Randy Moss. On Tuesday they made headlines again for signing former Denver Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox, a player who was acquitted earlier this month on sexual assault charges in Colorado. By Friday they had resigned Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers giving him a $31.3 million, four-year contract.

As Alex Smith visits the Miami Dolphins, people in the Bay Area are beginning to believe that Peyton Manning might be coming as well. According to NFL sources, Manning and his camp have narrowed their choices to the 49ers, Broncos and Tennessee Titans. Denver has already offered roughly $90 million over five years and it’s believed that all the teams still left in the running are comfortable with that type of figure. The bogey seems to be Manning’s previous contract with the Indianapolis Colts, which was five years for $90 million, or an average of $18 million per year. Additionally, Manning was to receive $61.8 million through the first two years of his contract with the Colts.

Whoever doesn’t get Manning is going to have to do some serious relationship building if they are going to have last year’s QB run their team again.

  • Denver made it to the playoffs as AFC West champions with Tim Tebow on the final day of the regular season last year in a division where no one, including the Broncos, had a record better than .500.
  • Titans’ owner Bud Adams has gone on record as stating that he wanted Manning and considers him the missing piece to a championship team. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Matt Hasselbeck, who signed to a three-year $20 million contract last July with Tennessee or the guy who less than one year ago was drafted as the Titans new franchise quarterback, the 8th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Jake Locker.
  • Then there’s Alex Smith who’s currently on tour as he was apparently insulted with the three year $24 million offer that the 49ers game him prior to entering the Manning Sweepstakes.

Sources say that Smith will be visiting the Seattle Seahawks this coming week. He’s a hot commodity these days as the only other free agent QB available that teams seem to be willing to turn their team over to is Matt Flynn. While Flynn has certainly been impressive under center for Green Bay, to say that he’s proven and has done anything but play with flair when he’s gotten a chance is a stretch. (Update: Flynn Signs with Seahawks)

The quarterbacks on San Francisco’s roster as of today are Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien, both who were rookies last year. Kaepernick, last year’s second-round pick, is viewed as the quarterback of the future, but is the future 2012? Kaepnernick threw just five passes as a rookie completing three for 25 yards. In four preseason games last year he had a 23.9 rating, throwing five interceptions and no touchdowns. If the 49ers don’t get Manning, would Alex Smith come back, or has the bridge already been burned out from beneath him? One would think that if that were to happen, San Fran would have to start the mending process by upping its previous three year $24 million offer that Smith walked away from.

The Broncos were first to market with their $90 million and the internet is now littered with pictures of John Elway walking around with Peyton Manning. On the practice field, outside the offices, next to leer jets… Perhaps Denver feels that if they let enough pictures our of Elway and Manning together that Manning would feel some sort of moral obligation to sign with them and not be accused of using them.

I’ve said all along that Manning doesn’t want Tim Tebow, he never did, and that this is his one chance to move on from Tebow and not take a PR hit. Who could possibly blame Elway for casting Tebow aside for Peyton Manning? Conventional wisdom says that if Manning goes to the Broncos that Tebow gets shipped in a trade to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Blaine Gabbert obviously isn’t the answer and Tebow would get to go home to the place he made his name, Jacksonville, Florida.

So while logic, reason and some cunning planning by the Broncos has Peyton going to Denver, and sentiment says that Peyton may want to return to Tennessee where he starred in college, I’m here to tell you that he will end up in San Francisco, a team that has the defense, running game and head coach to piece it all together. If Manning really wants to win, that’s where he’ll go and if he can stay healthy, he’ll have a chance to win a championship, if not more than one.

There’s one thing that scares the bejesus out of me for any of these teams and that is that Manning will turn 36 on March 24th. That’s this coming Saturday! Five years and $90 million is a king’s ransom for any player, but a 36 year QB old with four neck surgeries off a year where he couldn’t perform playing arguably the most violent sport in the world? Not the most conservative move in the world and I wouldn’t do it, but one of these GMs is about to turn into a hero or a goat.

The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at You may email Mike @ or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.


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