Recalling 'Manning to Miami' pipe dream

MIAMI -- It feels like ages. But less than two years ago the Miami Dolphins actually believed they had a legitimate chance to land future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.

Now, with Manning leading the Denver Broncos to Super Bowl XLVIII, it’s a perfect reminder of how the Dolphins wanted a game-changer for the organization. But it’s also a reminder of how much of a pipe dream "Manning to Miami" really was.

Let’s rewind the circumstances and how it all took place for Manning and the Dolphins.

Two years ago the Dolphins hired their new head coach -- Joe Philbin -- and were in search of a quarterback to pair with Philbin. Miami was moving on from former draft bust Chad Henne, and it was a rare opportunity that an elite talent like Manning became available.

The Indianapolis Colts released Manning following a major neck surgery and armed with the No. 1 overall pick they'd use to draft quarterback Andrew Luck. Manning’s services were no longer needed in Indianapolis. Yet, teams like the Dolphins, Broncos, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals were salivating at the chance to bring Manning under center.

Miami’s brass of Philbin, owner Stephen Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland reportedly met with Manning to make their pitch. But it was widely viewed as Manning being nice and showing the Dolphins courtesy for their interest. Miami was never truly in the running and was eliminated from the Manning sweepstakes early in the process.

Manning eventually narrowed his choices to the Cardinals and Broncos and correctly chose Denver. Broncos president John Elway promised Manning a chance to win another Super Bowl, and two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time agreed to join forces. The Broncos have since won two AFC West titles and will play in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 with Manning under center.

On the other hand, Miami is 15-17 since trying to acquire Manning two years ago. The Dolphins got rid of Ireland, and Philbin now is in the hot seat entering his third season. Miami also drafted quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the first round in 2012, and he’s been up and down in two seasons.

The futures of the Dolphins and Broncos could have been much different if Manning chose Miami over Denver. The Dolphins failed to land one of the biggest free agents in NFL history and are still dealing with the consequences.