|Depending on his health, Peyton Manning should have plenty of suitors should the Colts decide to cut him. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
Peyton Manning has been in the news more in the last month than he was at any point during the 2011 season. This is what happens when one of the NFL's best players is sidelined with a serious neck injury, his status remains uncertain, and he's due a $28 million bonus on March 13. There are questions about, well, everything.
Will Peyton be healthy enough to return to the field in 2012? Will the Colts pay him said $28 million? And if not, where might Manning end up?
CBSSports.com's Will Brinson handicapped those teams that might be in the Manning business next season and it included the usual suspects: the Dolphins, Redskins, Cardinals and even the Colts. But Brinson also included the Seahawks, an outfit that let Matt Hasselbeck walk after 2010 and went with Tarvaris Jackson last year.
On Sunday, Dan Pompei of the National Football Post writes that Seattle is more than intrigued by Manning.
"Based on the buzz around the league, the Seahawks could be the early frontrunner for Peyton Manning, assuming he is released," says Pompei. "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."
Jackson played better than we expected last season, but as NFL Network's Mike Mayock said earlier this week, “I like him. He’s developed to a certain point, but I think that position needs to be upgraded. And I don’t mind T-Jack competing for the position, but I think you either have to get a free agent in there or you have to draft somebody.”
Manning would certainly fit the description of competition although, again, no one knows if or when he'll be completely healthy. Then it becomes a question of which teams are willing to take a flier on him in the hopes that if he's not ready in 2012, he'll be available in 2013. That decision, we suspect, will come down to some combination money (for Manning) and desperation (by quarterback-needy teams).
Pompei also suggests that Manning and Reggie Wayne (he'll be a free agent in a few weeks) could be a packaged deal.
"A few pro scouts believe Wayne’s production may dip, given he probably will be in a new offensive system for the first time in his career, and he is 33 years old," Pompei says. "That isn’t to say the free agent to be doesn’t have a couple of good years left in him, however. Wayne could maximize his ability if he were to continue his connection with Manning."
We've been saying this for months, too. If Peyton returns, we'd expect Wayne to join him. If Manning can't play in '12, we wouldn't be surprised if Wayne ended up in New England.
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