By Danny O’Neil, The Seattle Times –
SEATTLE — The speculation the Seahawks could pursue Peyton Manning is becoming a reality. Seattle will be one of the teams trying to land Manning, a team source confirmed Wednesday.
The Seahawks’ interest was hardly a secret. It was also reported by Peter King of Sports Illustrated, and the NFL Network said the Seahawks were preparing to reach out to Manning as soon as he was released by the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday.
The Seahawks aren’t alone, with predictions that at least six teams — and as many as 10 or 11 — might be suitors.
Consider the Seahawks an entrant in what is almost certain to be the most heated multi-team pursuit of a player since defensive end Reggie White left Philadelphia in 1993.
During Manning’s news conference to announce his departure from the Colts, the quarterback said he hasn’t thought about where he’d play next.
That leaves lots of room for theorizing why he might come to Seattle. The Seahawks have the richest owner in the league in Paul Allen, a young, promising roster and one of the best facilities in the NFL. But would Manning choose to play in the league’s most isolated outpost in an outdoor stadium located in a city is known for precipitation?
Depends on who you ask.
One former teammate saw a perfect fit. Raheem Brock played with Manning for eight seasons in Indianapolis before playing under Carroll the past two years in Seattle. He said via his Twitter account that Manning is exactly what Seattle needs.
“If Pete Carroll gives up some of his control and works with Peyton Manning, I think Seahawks are a perfect fit,” Brock posted on his Twitter account. “Super bowl contender!”
Receiver Doug Baldwin put on his reporter’s hat and passed along info.
“My sources tell me that Peyton is going to Miami and taking Reggie Wayne with him,” Baldwin posted on Twitter.
It’s clear already the coverage of Manning’s future is going to be bonkers.
After the news conference in Indianapolis, Manning flew to South Florida on the private jet belonging to Jim Irsay the Colts’ owner. CBS Miami posted a picture from a helicopter showing Manning’s arrival. NBC 6 Miami posted video of Manning walking out of the plane to a waiting minivan.
So what’s next?
Well, that’s almost entirely up to Manning.
The Colts released him, which means he is free to negotiate and sign with other teams immediately. He is not subject to waivers. He does not have to wait until Tuesday, March 13, when unrestricted free agents can begin negotiating with other teams.
There is the question of his health. The 36-year-old Manning missed all of last season after undergoing multiple medical procedures on his neck, which included a cervical fusion.
He is also a historically prolific quarterback, the No. 1 overall pick in 1998. He won two-thirds of his starts in Indianapolis, appeared in two Super Bowls, won one of them and currently ranks fifth in career passing yardage.
There are teams that will look at him and see a player that can put them over the top and into title contention. Teams like the Miami Dolphins, the Arizona Cardinals, and yes, the Seahawks.
In nine years at USC, Carroll established himself as one of the nation’s top recruiters. Now as he prepares for his third season with the Seahawks, he has a chance to sell Manning on Seattle.
Chasing Peyton Manning
The four-time NFL MVP was released by the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday. Where could he end up?
QBs on roster: Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Richard Bartel, Max Hall.
The skinny: The Cardinals are on the rise after winning seven of their past nine games. They have an elite receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, and quarter Kevin Kolb — acquired last year — wasn’t as expensive as you might think. He is due a bonus of $7 million if he’s on the roster on March 17, giving the Cardinals an escape hatch if they decide to go after Manning, as is expected.
QBs on roster: Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, Thaddeus Lewis.
The skinny: The Browns probably have someone younger in mind. They also have the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft. So while Cleveland is by no means settled at quarterback, the Browns aren’t a team that would be attractive to Manning nor are they a team that believes it’s a quarterback away from contending.
QB on roster: Tim Tebow.
Free-agent QB: Brady Quinn.
The skinny: The only way the Peyton Manning story could get more overblown is if Tim Tebow were somehow involved. And yes, the Broncos are going to be involved, though only as a longshot, according to The Denver Post. Denver is expected to inquire about Manning, but likely will stick with Tebow.
Kansas City Chiefs
QBs on roster: Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, Ricky Stanzi.
Free-agent QB: Kyle Orton.
The skinny: Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel already said he’d be crazy not to consider a player as talented as Manning. That was back in February when he technically wasn’t supposed to talk about how attractive Manning would be. Now that Manning is on the market the Chiefs will be interested.
QBs on roster: Pat Devlin, Matt Moore.
Free-agent QBs: Chad Henne, J.P. Losman.
The skinny: The Dolphins have a relatively new owner in Stephen Ross, who needs to create a buzz, and a team that’s closer to contending than many expect. Manning already owns a home in South Florida, and the Dolphins are considered a front-runner.
New York Jets
QBs on roster: Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy.
Free-agent QBs: Mark Brunell, Kevin O’Connell.
The skinny: This would have been inconceivable this time last year given the fact that Sanchez had won road playoff games each of his first two seasons. But the Jets were a mess last year, and Sanchez has been a target of criticism and his development and growth has been questioned.
QBs on roster: Tarvaris Jackson, Josh Portis.
Free-agent QB: Charlie Whitehurst.
The skinny: The Seahawks’ proliferation of close losses last season showed just how close they might be to contending, and they don’t have a long-term investment currently in place at quarterback. Signing Manning also would not preclude the possibility of developing a younger quarterback behind him.
QB on roster: John Beck.
Free-agent QB: Rex Grossman.
The skinny: Manning is just the kind of big-name free agent that owner Daniel Snyder likes to throw money at. The bigger question is whether coach Mike Shanahan would cede some of his control of the offense to a quarterback like Manning.