The news is barely a few hours old that the Indianapolis Colts will not pay quarterback Peyton Manning his $28 million roster bonus, thus freeing him to sign with any NFL team next season. You know who's interested in snagging the four-time MVP? Everyone! Well, mostly. A select few would be thrilled to land Manning, and now the jockeying for Perceived Frontrunner Status is well underway.
First up! The New York Jets. What do you got, New York Post?
The Jets definitely will consider signing Manning, a source said Tuesday.
The source said the Jets need to see how healthy Manning is before deciding how aggressively they will pursue him. They are also wrestling with the idea of completely shaking up their franchise.
The Jets have shown a willingness to make a big move before. They traded for quarterback Brett Favre before the 2008 season, a move that sparked huge interest in the team but fizzled when Favre suffered an arm injury and the team collapsed in December.
If the Jets make this move, it could spell the end of Mark Sanchez's time with the team. The 2009 first-round pick would be a very expensive backup.
Eric Branch, the San Francisco Chronicle's 49ers beat writer, has already started beating back those pesky optimistic thoughts that Alex Smith couldn't quash.
— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) March 6, 2012
Although, if there's anything resembling a frontrunner at this early stage, it's probably the Dolphins. The Miami Herald is already deep into mapping out the Manning Plan for World Domination.
Manning, who owns a condo on South Beach, threw to Colts free agent receiver Reggie Wayne in South Florida two weeks ago, and spent much of last week conducting an aggressive throwing session at Duke University, where his former University of Tennessee offensive coordinator, David Cutcliffe, is now the head coach. Manning could be seen making several strong throws on a video clip posted on YouTube last Saturday.
Manning respects Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman and is aware that Joe Philbin is a good coach to play for, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. A Manning associate said he believes that if Manning chooses the Dolphins, he would be willing to work with the Dolphins on running the offense he's comfortable with, while also weaving in elements of Sherman's West Coast-style offense.
The Dolphins have about $15 million in cap space and could prorate a large signing bonus for Manning over several years to somewhat soften the cap hit.
All that cap money! A sweet, sweet condo! Respect!