NFL Analysis: Most Realistic Destinations for Peyton Manning

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Opinions are running rampant about why Peyton Manning won’t sign with the New York Jets, Washington Redskins or Miami Dolphins – three of the Peyton Sweepstakes frontrunners – citing issues such as unsuitable environments, dubious weather, new coaching regimes, difficult coaching regimes, uninspiring receiving corps, and not enough pork sandwich outlets as chief arguments. Okay, I made that last one up. But still.

Are these concerns realistic?

I certainly agree that Peyton in Jets-green seems egregious: haven’t we already been down that rocky road with Brett Favre? We know the Big Apple is a pressure cooker for quarterbacks – unless you share a name with Manhattan’s theater district, that is – and so it’s a stretch to imagine Peyton facing that sort of heat at this stage of his career, and in a town his brother already owns. Where’s the upside? In hoping to meet Woody Allen, but spending more time with Woody Johnson?

Washington poses a more likely destination, especially with their superior coaching and bottomless pockets. But then again, would the ultimate on-field general be willing to relinquish some his command to the Shanahans? Doubtful. Furthermore, would the Hogs, a team perennially in limbo and without a bona fide leader, be keen on a veteran QB in a precarious state of health?

One time star, and championship air guitarist, Donovan McNabb, threw his two cents in recently, indicating to ESPN that the Skins wouldn’t again entertain a signal-caller at the tail end of his career. Donovan is apparently still part of Washington’s inner circle.

“I don’t see Peyton ending up in Washington,” said McNabb. “Because what happens is now you’re bringing in another veteran who will be 35, 36, who’s been in one offense throughout his career – it’s the same situation (as McNabb in 2010).”

That leaves the Dolphins, who in my mind, at least have the best receiving corps for a precision passer like Peyton. The group is headlined by the NFL’s fiercest run-after-the-catch receiver , and also includes slot maestro, Davone Bess, the big mitts of Anthony Fasano, and the speedy down-field threat Brian Hartline, who according to the Phins Spotlight blog, has improved this past season with his 15.7 yards per catch.

As much as the Red Birds of Arizona crave Manning too, I fear they’re stuck with their “marquee” man Kevin Kolb, whose nine touchdowns and eight turnovers in 2011 seem about on par with driving Aunt Edna to Phoenix. At least he’s not Derek Anderson, right? Then again, Anderson could send it deep – I’m so confused!

Perhaps the final say goes to the South Florida faithful whose attempts to lure Manning have fallen just short of having Kim Kardashian parade around in an 18-shaped bikini. (Could that even work? The mind boggles). The Washington Post recently reported that Fins fans have erected a billboard at the intersection of I-95 and I-595 in Fort Lauderdale to advertise and their campaign. The website urges locals to vote for Manning to bring his talents, and neck brace, to South Beach, for what would surely be on par with Colts great Earl Morrall turning up in Miami and guiding the club to the NFL’s first undefeated season in 1972.

At the very least, Peyton could catch some rays and give LeBron James some pointers on how to be more measured in setting fan expectation.

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JP Pelosi is a journalist and the editor of Why Football Is Cool, a blog about pro football trends, ideas and culture. He started as a sportswriter on his college paper The Mace and Crown at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. JP has since written stories for The Globe and Mail, The Virginian Pilot, Inside Hoops, The Bleacher Report and Technorati’s football blog The Gridiron Grind. You may email JP directly @ or follow him on Twitter @jppelosi16


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