Peyton Manning: Rumors, Intrigue Galore

I haven't done a rumors/intrigue galore post in a while but I suppose now is as good of a time as any. The Peyton Manning injury situation, roster bonus question, possible release from the Colts, his possible retirement, his rift with Irsay, or a myriad of other rumors have been swirling for a few months and on a daily basis we're 'hearing' new things. Today is no different. So, here's what we're reading today!

From Dan Pompei and the National Football Post:

*Based on the buzz around the league, the Seahawks could be the early frontrunner for Peyton Manning, assuming he is released. Pete Carroll needs a quarterback and is believed to have a strong interest in at least exploring Manning. The Seahawks could offer Manning an attractive scenario. They have a young team with some fine skill players to put around him. They play in one of the league's loudest stadiums. Manning wouldn't be subject to the same kind of scrutiny in Seattle that he would in a lot of other markets.

The Seahawks also could have a better feel for Manning's medical situation than some teams. One of their team physicians, Stan Herring, who also is one of the country's preeminent specialists for spine injuries. Herring is a member of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee.

The first paragraph is nothing new, really. The Peyton Manning - Seattle connection has been made quite a few times and Seattle is one of a short list of NFL teams with adequate (?) cap space, a stable of quality receivers and tight ends, a run game, and a strong defense where the addition of the future-hall-of-famer could plausibly put them into contention. Also, importantly, the Seahawks have sunk a lot of capital into their offensive line, have a young, near elite left tackle in Russell Okung, a first-round pick right tackle in James Carpenter and a recently re-signed quality backup in Breno Giacomini. They've got a very quality center in Max Unger, and Robert Gallery/John Moffitt are at least average at the guard spots.

The Seahawks had been reportedly interested in Carson Palmer the last year or so and the idea of bringing in a veteran QB to act as a franchise bridge is not far-fetched, - not remotely. The 'don't panic' attitude of the front office when it comes to their draft picks and the quarterback position make this type of move much more attractive - adding a quality quarterback like Manning, even considering the idea that his skills may be diminished due to his neck injury, buys them time to choose carefully when it comes to finally pulling the trigger on a young signal caller. The pressure to draft a QB early this year, for good or bad, would be greatly reduced and if the team has their eyes set on a player next year - Matt Barkley or whoever - then they can afford to wait.

Or, if they draft a quarterback this year, there would be absolutely no fan or media pressure to rush said player onto the field. Despite Carroll's comments recently admitting that young QBs may be more able to play earlier than he originally thought, you have to think that he'd prefer to play a veteran with experience and savvy.

You know that Carroll and company want to compete this year, and with the leaps and bounds their defense made last year, better QB play makes it very possible for the team to improve dramatically. Imagine the Seahawks' defense buoyed by an offense that finishes better than 29th in time of possession. For a unit that was on the field longer than all but three teams in the whole league in 2011, the Seahawks defensive top-10 finish becomes even more respectable and exciting.

Again, this is nothing new. I find it very easy to defend the logic behind a move like this, even if it seems far fetched. There are arguments against signing him- that he might not be a scheme fit, they'd have to install a new offense, his personality doesn't fit well, he's not a long-term solution. If those are the real reasons for shying away from Manning then I'd have question the intelligence of the brain trust in charge, honestly.

On the other hand, if the main question concerns his health, that's completely valid. If he can't throw, he's not 'Peyton Manning'. If he can't grip the ball, he's not 'Peyton Manning.' These are good reasons to exercise caution, in my opinion. Not going after 'Peyton Manning' because of personality concerns, or scheme concerns, well, that's just dumb, in my opinion. He has elite skills - accuracy, elite progression reading, elite diagnostic skills, elite decision making skills, willingness to throw receivers open and fit the ball into tight pockets. If you say to me - "well, they'd have to learn a new offense," I'd say "who gives a shit? Do it. There are maybe five QBs in the league with that skillset. You'll figure it out."

He's got a strong running game to lean on. He won't be asked to throw 40 times a game, probably. Darrell Bevell doesn't run a proprietary offense that cannot be tweaked. Who would you rather have calling plays anyway, really?

But that's just me. I haven't heard anyone in the Seahawks say anything either way when it comes to Manning, obviously, so it's definitely tough to know exactly what they're thinking. There's a lot of speculation either way, but in my mind it would be stupid to ignore the possibility of signing Manning if he had interest in Seattle. Obviously, that's the question. There have been rumors out there that Manning would like to play in Seattle, as reported by Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network. Who knows if that's actually true. Regardless, it's worth mentioning.

So, let's assume their main concern is Peyton Manning's health. The interesting piece of the puzzle that comes out in Pompei's piece is this paragraph:

The Seahawks also could have a better feel for Manning's medical situation than some teams. One of their team physicians, Stan Herring, who also is one of the country's preeminent specialists for spine injuries. Herring is a member of the NFL's Head, Neck and Spine Committee.

That's fairly significant. Manning's personal doctors and surgeons have apparently cleared him to play, but with Stan Herring on the Seahawks staff, their understanding of the injury - its implications and risks will be well-known to the team and that can't be understated. Obviously, teams have experts and consult the best doctors when performing their due diligence on injuries, but having one of 'the country's preeminent specialists for spine injuries" on their payroll certainly can't hurt. Knowledge is king in this league and that gives the Seahawks a slight edge. If they feel that Manning is worth a look, despite the injury risk (which, they've shown a willingness to stomach in the past - Sidney Rice, etc), this might be key.

This is going to be a hot-button topic this offseason, whether we like it or not. Even if it seems far-fetched (which it does, to me, honestly), it's not really something you can ignore so here's me exploring the idea. The arguments for and against brining him in have been discussed. If he does indeed have interest in Seattle, it's going to get very interesting. I'm skeptical, but I also didn't think the Seahawks would sign Sidney Rice. Or Zach Miller. I didn't think they'd draft two offensive linemen with their first two picks. If anything, they've been pretty unpredictable.

All this, of course, is assuming he's released. Assuming he's not going to retire. Ah, the offseason.

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