|Peyton Manning is a riskier signing with his familiar receivers. (AP)|
More than 30 veteran players signed contracts by the end of the first 24 hours of free agency and two of the biggest Colt targets for Peyton Manning are off the market, but still no Peyton! Gone are Reggie Wayne back to the Colts and the surprise contract of Day 1, Pierre Garcon to the Redskins. Now Manning sits and thinks about where he should go and his automatic weapons are disappearing one by one.
You have to wonder if some of the Manning mystique is also starting to fade for some of the clubs on hold. A big part of what made the HOF quarterback intriguing to some teams is the fact he could bring a receiving machine with him, which makes installing the "Manning Offense" exciting to teams. If all the receivers turn out to be new for Peyton and have to learn what Peyton wants them to do, then maybe it's time Peyton learns what the offensive coordinator wants him to do.
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In my opinion Peyton Manning has already challenged his best chance for success. If he has to hold the ball for an extra split second, things can be very different.
Keep in mind any lost precision in the offensive package means Peyton is at risk for more sacks and hits. Something he clearly can't afford to let happen. As one NFL offensive line coach said to me earlier Wednesday, "Peyton is talking with teams that will struggle to protect him without his go-to weapons."
I talked with former Colts tight end Jacob Tamme this week and he couldn't emphasis enough how critical the timing between Manning and Reggie Wayne was especially on the deep out, which was almost indefensible. Without Garcon and Wayne, Manning has to work on the timing with new players, and that could take away from the early season readiness.
Rumors were out there that Manning didn't care for Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall, but he's gone to Chicago, and the Colts top receivers are gone too. It is time for the Dolphins to move on from the Manning tour and focus on Matt Flynn.
In the first few hours of free agency there are certain deals that set the tone for future deals at the same position. They are benchmark contracts that quickly set the table for the rest of that position. Agents or clubs like to work off recent deals that establish the market. Of course the club typically sees deals that come in as too rich for the next guy in line while the agent sees them as not rich enough. The deal for Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson signed before free agency for five years and $36.5 million with 19.5 million guaranteed appears to be the contract basis for the deals done by Marques Colston (5 years, $40 million, $19.5 guaranteed), Pierre Garcon (5 years, $42.5 million, $21.5 guaranteed), and a host of other receivers that made signing receivers easy to get done in the opening hours of free agency.
Now that guard Carl Nicks got his deal done with the Tampa Bay Bucs for five years, $47.5 million with $31 million guaranteed, it should speed the signing process for Ben Grubbs. Same could be said about the Red Bryant contract up in Seattle, which should move a Jason Jones deal along in the coming days. Agents representing inside linebackers Curtis Lofton and Stephen Tulloch probably think the D'Qwell Jackson deal in Cleveland is a good place to start. Jackson got a five-year $38.5 million deal with $19 million guaranteed.