Written by Kip Earlywine
Last week Rob reported that Seattle had a quarterback deal in place with a mystery Manning suitor. We honestly have no idea which team that is, but after talking this over with Rob, I figured now would be a good time to discuss some possibilities as Manning’s search for a team draws near a close. Please do not confuse this for breaking news or further insider info. It isn’t. It is purely speculation.
Don’t confuse it for an endorsement either.
The Denver Post let it be known today that Manning will not make a visit the to the Pacific Northwest, which is kind of like when a hot chick rejects your brave advances with an obvious made up excuse. She’s saying “no” without saying no, and you have to at least give her credit for being nice and indirect about it. For all intents and purposes, our dreams of seeing Manning in a Seahawks uniform next season died today. Of course, the Seahawks are once again acting the part of the socially inept nerdy kid- doubling down on their overtures to Manning rather than take a hint. The Seahawks insist that Manning hasn’t ruled them out. Of course, (per Adam Schefter) Manning’s camp “isn’t interested at this point.” Hey Seahawks, did you ever think she’s just not that into you?
Whether you want to hold out hope for Manning or not is up to you. For now, I think we should revisit the potential trade Rob previously talked about. Its been said that 12 NFL teams contacted Manning this week, including a few that already had good starting quarterbacks and wanted their interest to remain anonymous. Its very possible that the deal struck by Seattle was with one of those teams. It certainly is fun to think about scenarios like Matt Schaub, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Josh Freeman.
But what if it wasn’t one of those anonymous teams? What if that deal was with the Broncos: the current “front-runners” in the Manning sweepstakes? It would be consistent with what we were told: that the deal was not with a team that had been linked to Manning at the time (we were first told of the trade over a month ago). If Denver gets Manning, it would give John Elway a nice exit strategy from the Tim Tebow drama he inherited. While a case could be made that Tebow could develop for a few years behind Manning as the starter, its equally possible that Elway is just looking for a golden opportunity to escape his “Tebow problem” without looking like a villain in the process. Acquiring Manning would certainly allow him to do that.
The other major player for Manning is thought to be Arizona. If the thought of Peyton Manning throwing passes to Larry Fitzgerald for the next three or four years doesn’t make you shudder, then you probably have an unhealthy desire for Seattle to draft high for a franchise quarterback.
In the event that Manning does choose Arizona, the Cardinals will have to make a decision with current “starter” Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals are $16.4 million over the cap at the moment, which means they could hardly afford to sign Manning, bring in Reggie Wayne, and keep Kolb and his large contract. Kolb is due a $7 million roster bonus on the 17th. If the Cardinals land Manning, they would need to trade Kolb or release him by that date. While I wouldn’t expect Arizona to trade Kolb in the division, they could be desperate to unload him. Seattle expressed a degree of interest in Kolb last year, though its not clear to what extent. And obviously, if Kolb is outright released, it would be surprising if Seattle didn’t pursue him.
While my opinion of Kolb isn’t nearly as high as it was a year ago, I think I’d personally rather have Kevin Kolb than Kirk Cousins, and Kolb potentially wouldn’t cost us the draft pick. Both Kolb and Cousins seem to be allergic to throwing deep, but at least Kolb has experience and some scheme friendliness (Andy Reid quarterback) on his side. Depending on the cost involved, Kolb to Seattle could make some sense.
What if Denver signs Manning? That’s where things get interesting. Seattle twice passed on Tebow in 2010, but that’s hardly much evidence of rebuke given the difference between Tebow’s draft stock and Seattle’s lofty draft position. Would Seattle entertain the idea of bringing Tebow in? Tebow is an incredibly flawed quarterback, but its almost scary how well he fits John Schneider’s quarterback criteria. Is he a tough “football player” at quarterback? Check. Is he big and mobile? Check. Does he “tilt the field his way” and fuel the team with his leadership? Uh, yeah. Tebow is a punchline, but his leadership ability is legendary. Check.
I’m not sure how I’d react to a Tebow acquisition. I think I’d be in favor of it, since I’d be assuming the deal was dirt cheap and would have zero impact on the team’s search for a long term franchise quarterback. Tebow isn’t good, but there’s no denying he’s fun. Kind of like the Pete Carroll Seahawks, come to think of it.
Finally, its been brought up elsewhere as a bit of an “out there” possibility, but what if the Jacksonville Jaguars became suitors for Tebow in a Manning-Denver scenario? Tebow is a Jacksonville native who went on to be a legend at Florida. He’s the ultimate hometown hero in a city with a professional football franchise struggling to sell tickets. Two years ago, Rob regularly mocked Tebow to the Jaguars early in the first round for this exact reason. Instead of shocking the NFL with a titanic Tim Tebow reach, the Jags opted to shock the NFL with a titanic Tyson Alualu reach instead. Its funny the way things work out sometimes.
New Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shao Khan Shad Khan is an ambitious and charismatic person that seems willing to do almost anything to get butts in the seats in Jacksonville. Tim Tebow may not be a stellar quarterback, but he wins games and brings excitement. Blaine Gabbert is more talented and more invested, but after an NFL worst -825 DYAR rookie season, it wouldn’t be beyond imagining that Jacksonville could consider Tebow. To put that number in perspective, infamous flameout Jimmy Clausen posted a -609 DYAR in 2010.
If Jacksonville acquired Tebow, they’d need to concoct an exit strategy for Gabbert. According to our inside source which revealed Seattle’s quarterback draft board last year, Blaine Gabbert was Seattle’s #1 quarterback in the 2011 draft. That three team wheel of interest could easily lead to a multi-team team trade with Tebow heading to Jacksonville, Gabbert heading to Seattle, and draft picks heading to Denver and Jacksonville. Of course, Gabbert’s wretched 2011 performance could have changed minds. But if the Seahawks believe that Gabbert could succeed within their offense, a trade could make a great deal of sense. At least from their perspective.
Whether you like these quarterback possibilities or find the mere thought of any of them in a Seahawk uniform sends you into frantic, screaming sprint into the mountains, the next couple days certainly won’t lack for intrigue. Regardless of what happens, I’d really like to see Manning in Denver. For a lot of reasons. The potential Tebow media madness would be fun, and anything that keeps Manning out of Arizona would be welcome as well.