Peyton Manning’s unclear health hurts suitors
INDIANAPOLIS – The questions about Peyton Manning kept coming Thursday for new Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano. Meanwhile, in other cities around the NFL, some fans and team owners are ready to take Manning, no questions asked.
As the NFL scouting combine got rolling with player, coach and general manager interviews with the media, Grigson and Pagano were bombarded by all things Manning. In total, 15 of 46 inquiries for the two men were Manning related, ranging from whether either man had seen him throw since they were hired in January (no, neither of them has) to whether Manning and Andrew Luck, the expected No. 1 overall pick, can coexist (sure, Grigson said, even though he doesn’t have much say in the matter).
The fortunate part for Grigson and Pagano is that the Manning decision is above their pay grade. This is a call that owner Jim Irsay will make and, as of now, it appears he’ll let go of Manning by March 8, before Manning is due a $28 million bonus.
[ Yahoo! Sports Radio: Jason Cole on Andrew Luck at the combine]
Approximately 1,000 miles away in South Florida, some fans don’t care about the concerns over Manning. As they expressed on a billboard by the side of Interstates 95 and 595 and on a website, at least some fans want the Dolphins to sign Manning no matter what.
[ Related: Dolphins fans wooing Peyton via billboard ]
In addition, rumors out of Washington and Miami persist that owners Dan Snyder and Stephen Ross are desperately interested in signing Manning if he’s available.
The problem is that the situation is just not that simple. A handful of NFL executives and coaches talked with Yahoo! Sports about Manning on Wednesday and Thursday about the difficulties of bringing the quarterback in if it’s unclear if he can throw after recovering from neck problems. All of them spoke anonymously because they aren’t technically allowed to discuss any interest they might have in a player who is currently under contract with another team.
In short, signing Manning with the expectation he might be ready is a lot harder than it sounds.
“Just think about it in this way: If you bring him in, what offense are you running?” an AFC executive said, rhetorically. “Are you running your offense or the one that he has run his entire career? You’re running his offense because that’s what he has been conditioned to do for his career. When you do that, you’re making him the de facto offensive coordinator. Now, if you get down the line and something goes wrong, how do you rebuild the whole thing?”
Another AFC executive said personnel is overlooked.
“You’re talking about bringing in receivers who know how to work with him if you can, offensive linemen, the whole thing,” the executive said.
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Manning could easily come as a package deal with wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who is scheduled to become a free agent in March. Throw in whoever else the team might find. None of that is daunting, by itself. But what if there are doubts about Manning’s condition? If Manning isn’t strong enough to throw effectively during some or all of the offseason, the circumstances get harder.
“You’re telling me I’m not going to know until maybe July or August if he can throw,” said an NFC head coach from a team that has a moderate interest in Manning. “The gambler in me says take the chance. But the logical planner in me says that’s nearly impossible. Seriously, you’re talking about spending the entire offseason not exactly knowing what’s going to happen at the most important position on your team.”
As the NFC coach talked about it, a coach/friend of his from another team stood next to him listening to the conversation. The coach/friend smiled, looked at his buddy and said, “You better either be in the final year of your contract or have total job security … which one is you?”
The NFC coach gave his friend a withering look and said: “[Bleep] you.”
That settled that.
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