An NFL world gone Manning-mad

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
10:09
AM ET
Sometimes I think I'm crazy, but in this case I'm pretty sure it's not me but rather the rest of the world. Adam Schefter is reporting that 12 teams have already called on Peyton Manning and that Manning wants to have his new team picked out within the week. While Adam also reports that Manning would prefer to stay in the AFC, the Washington Redskins are one of the interested teams, and that gives me license to vent my confusion on an NFC East blog. Ready? Here goes.

[+] EnlargeManning
Jerry Lai/US PresswireDespite his health concerns, numerous NFL teams seem to be in a hurry to sign Peyton Manning.
How is it even remotely possible that an NFL team could confidently commit real money to Peyton Manning by this time next week? How is it possible that there's about to be a Manning bidding war among one-third of the teams in the NFL when no one knows how healthy his neck is or how strong his arm is? How can you even consider signing Peyton Manning without having a team of doctors who have had their hands on him swear up and down that he's going to be fine -- just as good as he was before the neck injury, don't worry about it.

There's no way that's happened in the past 18 hours, which means there's no way for any of these 12 teams to know what they're bidding on. The idea of signing Manning isn't crazy. The idea of all of these teams being interested in Manning isn't crazy. What's crazy is the rush. Why in the world would everyone be in such a hurry on this?

I have written many times that I think a healthy Manning would be a great 2012 solution for the Redskins at quarterback, and I stand by it. But I have also assumed (apparently incorrectly) that the Manning market would take some time to develop. I assumed this because of the health question, which is gigantic. I don't know if the guy who cried through his farewell statement Wednesday afternoon in Indianapolis is healthy. Neither do the Redskins, and neither do the Dolphins, Cardinals, Broncos, Seahawks, Chiefs or Jets. If Manning's going to sign within the next week, and if he's going to get big money (as I imagine he is, with a third of the league interested), it's going to be by a team that's taking a massive risk. I don't think it'd be wise for the Redskins to sign Manning to a great big deal within the next seven days. I don't think it'd be wise for anyone to do that.

One possibility that crossed my mind while reading this stuff was this: Perhaps the Redskins are striking an aggressive pose on Manning in an effort to get the Rams to move toward them in negotiations for the No. 2 pick in the draft. It's Robert Griffin III that the Redskins really want for quarterback, and they need to move up to No. 2 to get him. If the Rams have been playing hardball in negotiations, the Manning thing could conceivably scare them into softening up. If Manning signs somewhere like Miami, Washington or Seattle, the Rams could lose a suitor and, by extension, some negotiating leverage with the suitors who remain.

Maybe the Redskins really want Manning. But I don't see how they can be sure enough about his health yet to really make that call. So maybe this is some kind of negotiating tactic to help them get what they really want. If it is, that'd be a pretty smart move. Certainly smarter than signing Peyton Manning sometime in the next week.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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