33056. That’s the answer to the question about where Peyton Manning will end up, as early as this weekend.
But before I explain WHY he’ll go there, let’s talk about why he won’t go to a bunch of other places. Of course, some of them have multiple reasons, like crazy owner AND no chance of winning (Washington Redskins), but I have tried to keep it simple.
4-Manning won’t go to the NFC East because he won’t play little bro Eli twice a year (and maybe in the playoffs). The Manning family never seemed to enjoy the rare times that Eli and Peyton faced off.
11- Manning won’t go to a team with an already-established quarterback, either because their All-Pro or because the verdict is still out: my apologies to Green Bay (Aaron Rodgers), New England (Tom Brady), Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger), Detroit (Matthew Stafford), Carolina (Cam Newton), San Diego (Phillip Rivers), St. Louis Rams (Sam Bradford), Baltimore Ravens (Joe Flacco), San Francisco (Alex Smith, unless his coach is lying through his teeth), Cincinnati (Andy Dalton), or Houston (Matt Schaub). Of course, with Drew Brees’ anger at the franchise tag, there is speculation about the Manning reunion in New Orleans, but that would require sending Brees’ $14 million somewhere else first.
3- Manning won’t go to a team with more dysfunction than sense: New York Jets, Oakland Raiders.
4- Manning won’t go to a constantly horrible team with no chance of making the playoffs, let alone winning them: Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, please sit down.
4-Manning won’t be going to a team with a) no offensive line (Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, or b) no one to throw to (Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks).
Which leaves the final three for consideration: Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Miami Dolphins. Manning’s window is reasonably small, and while he may be a package deal with Reggie Wayne and Jeff Saturday included, he’s thirty-six, and will need some assists from the defense and the running game. The first two teams in our final three have decent but not excellent defenses; Miami went 6-3 over the last nine games of the season, without a marquee quarterback to speak of.
While Tampa Bay has significant potential in their wide receivers and running backs, they seem to be a few pieces away from competing in the NFC South against the likes of New Orleans and Atlanta (and up-and-coming Carolina). And while Kansas City plays in a week division, they sport the mercurial Dwayne Bowe at wide receiver, a recovering-from-injury Jamaal Charles at running back, and not much else.
Miami boasts a reasonably strong threesome of Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline at wideout, and Reggie Bush has reinvented himself at running back. The offensive line is strong, and the defense will only continue to improve. Manning has had success against Brady (unfortunately!) and Rex Ryan-coached teams (…). Surrounded by this cast of characters, and with the number 8 pick in the NFL draft, Miami is also Manning’s “other” home, appeals with good weather, and has that beloved tax-free status that have already caused another “king” to take his talents to South Beach. Sure, Ryan Tannehill will appeal to Mike Sherman, but as new coach Joe Philbin will attest, it takes a one-of-a-kind talent to win in the NFL.
It’s all about the 33056!