By Rich Tandler
Let’s cut to it here—will Peyton Manning, who will be released today by the Colts, be a Washington Redskin in 2012?
The short answer is probably not. There are a few teams that are expected to pursue Manning’s services who are a step or two closer to the Super Bowl than the Redskins are, who might be able to protect him better in the pocket and who have better targets at wide receiver. On top of that, Manning is far from an ideal fit for the type of offense the Redskins run.
However, there are reasons why that a month ago, Mike Freeman of CBSsports.com wrote, “Speaking of Peyton, everyone I speak to in the NFL -- and I mean just about everyone -- believes if Manning becomes a free agent, the Washington Redskins will sign him.”
Perhaps Manning to the Redskins does not appear to be the mortal lock that it did a few days after the Super Bowl but it remains a possibility.
There clearly is some interest on the Redskins’ side if for no other reason than that they very much need a franchise-changing player at quarterback and they have to look at all options. Since Mike Shanahan has to consider Manning he also has to contemplate revamping the offense. And he and Kyle Shanahan have to reconsider how they run things on offense. Manning is accustomed to taking a very active role in everything from game planning to practice. It would be foolish to bring in Manning and then clash over him stepping on toes.
But Mike Shanahan knows that as well as anyone else and the fact that there is some interest in signing Manning means that there is consideration being given to ceding some authority to him. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen but it could.
Even if the Shanahans were willing to give Manning a high degree of autonomy, it takes two to make a deal and Manning would have to be sold on the notion that the Redskins could win. As noted above, the offensive talent just isn’t there, although with some $40 million in cap space and eight draft picks they would give the unit a pretty solid infusion of players.
But there is one asset that the Redskins have that the other teams pursuing Manning such as the Dolphins and Cardinals do not have and that is Mike Shanahan. He and John Elway won two Super Bowls in Denver in the twilight of the Hall of Fame quarterback’s career. Manning would like to add a couple more rings to upgrade his legacy in that regard. He may decide that Shanahan is just the guy to help him do it.