Peyton Manning may have returned to South Florida after his official release from the Indianapolis Colts (waiver wire designation: "Terminated, vested veteran, failed physical"), but according to several NFL insiders, it is the overtures of the Seattle Seahawks that Manning will be receiving in the very near future. Officially a free agent at the 4 p.m. ET deadline, Manning is now a target for a large batch of teams looking to upgrade their quarterback position. And according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (per his Twitter account), "the Seahawks are already in the process of reaching out to ex-Colts QB Peyton Manning."
On Tuesday night, Peter King and Jim Trotter (both of SI.com) intimated on their Twitter accounts that the Seahawks were more than ready to come in, checkbooks blasting, to see what could be done about moving Manning to the Pacific Northwest. The Washington Redskins, New York Jets and Denver Broncos are also in the wave of at least 10 teams ready to kick the tires.
Seattle would be an interesting fit. Though most of the news about Manning's next football home has been centered on the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, the Seahawks were about as good in 2011 as any team without a consistently above-average quarterback could be. The youngest offensive line in the NFL found traction as the season went on, the recent re-signing of running back Marshawn Lynch gives the team a future on the ground it hasn't had in years, the receiver corps is more than solid if Sidney Rice can recover from shoulder surgeries, and a young defense featured several underrated players performing at a Pro Bowl level.
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, brought in for the 2011 season because he understood the system run by offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, played courageously through a pectoral injury, but the numbers didn't reflect the kind of production playoff teams need from their quarterbacks -- 271 completions in 450 attempts for 3,091 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. To be fair, Jackson did have his best month of the 2011 season in December (68 of 107 for 804 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions), but it's public knowledge to anyone west of the Pecos that head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider are looking for an upgrade at the position to a team they've built from the ground up over the last three seasons.
What's interesting about the Seahawks' purported view that Manning might be their man is that Schneider sounded as if it wasn't the case at the scouting combine in late February. Asked about his team's quarterback position in a general sense (you can't talk about players on other teams' rosters before the free-agency deadline of March 13 or until they've been cut, which means that everyone asks about them at the combine anyway).
"I'm talking about giving up draft choices to go get somebody or guaranteeing somebody a ton of money that you're not quite sure is the guy that's going to get you over that hump," Schneider said. "If you do that, then you can set your organization back ... You overdraft at one position then you overpay at the same position. It will jack you up."
When asked specifically about Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill (a projected early first-rounder in the 2012 draft class), Schneider certainly made it sound as if he preferred a different breed of cat than the player Manning is now.
"In talking about football players, at the quarterback position, I believe you have to have a tough-minded individual. A guy that maybe has played some defense and knocked the crap out of a receiver himself. Or something. Just a guy that's an all-around football player. Guys that have always been in the quarterback schools and special camps, and all that stuff? They make me a little nervous to a certain extent."
Of course, Manning's had his own passing academy for a number of years (Notable alum and former counselor: Andrew Luck), but he's certainly not the hothouse flower type Schneider was referring to. And it seems that the Seahawks are just the first of many teams to decide, now that Manning's available on the open market, that they're more than willing to bend their own parameters for a shot at the brass ring.