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Monday, January 30, 2012
On Manning elsewhere in the division

By Paul Kuharsky

Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle recently wrote that if Peyton Manning is available, the Texans should be at the head of the line.
Sorry, Matt Schaub. Thanks for your service.

Schaub might be a solid quarterback, but a healthy Manning is more than solid. He is an all-time great.

No one knows if we are if we are talking about a healthy Manning, and he’d come with more risk of suffering another neck injury. Presuming he’s OK, in my view, you can look at all but six teams in the league and say the same thing Solomon is saying about the Texans. Simply insert the name of 25 other presumed starting quarterbacks in the Schaub slot in the above passage and it is intriguing.

Most teams aren’t big on scrapping long-range plans.

But most teams should be willing to change course given a chance at an all-time great quarterback in the rare instance when adding him is feasible and it would open a window during which they’d rank as a Super Bowl contender.

Much has been written about the teams most likely to court Manning the hardest: the Jets, Dolphins, Redskins and Cardinals top most lists.

Much has been said about an ideal fit: Add him to San Francisco, shore up the receivers and the Niners would be a Super Bowl favorite.

Let’s look at the scenario dreaming fans of the other three AFC South fans may be letting creep into their brains:

Houston

As Solomon writes, “Once Manning is let go he should be as interested in the Texans as they would be in him. There might not be a better fit for him in the NFL.”

The Texans could dominate a weak division. Gary Kubiak is a great offensive mind. Manning would be paired with an excellent run game and a fantastic receiver in Andre Johnson. The defense should continue to be quite good.

My feeling: It’s nice to imagine, but I just can’t picture the Texans going after him with the all-out sales pitch he’s likely to get from a lot of other places. They feel they now have good insurance for Schaub with T.J. Yates. But if you boil down the best option, it’s be Manning. Cap room would be an issue.

Jacksonville

New owner Shahid Khan has said he’s willing to spend and there is not a move that could make a bigger splash.

The Jaguars have excellent defensive personnel and if they add a rush end and re-stock at corner, they’ll be a top defense. They have the reigning rushing champ.

Their quarterback was horrible as a rookie. Put Blaine Gabbert behind Manning, acquire two or three receivers for him to throw to and the Jaguars would be instant contenders more than able to challenge the Texans.

My feeling: It makes sense and the Jaguars should take a swing even though it falls well outside their typical approach under general manager Gene Smith. I don’t imagine it’s the most attractive market for Manning, though he could really help put it, and Khan, on the map.

Tennessee

It won’t be long before those who still love Manning for what he did at the University of Tennessee clamor for him to finish his career with the Titans. It would mean the Titans part with Matt Hasselbeck and that Jake Locker would be planted on the bench longer than was the initial plan.

But put Manning on this team, with a great pass-protecting line, a healthy Kenny Britt, a stable of targets including Jared Cook, Nate Washington and Chris Johnson and the offense is instantly more dangerous.

My feeling: It’s too far outside the box for new general manager Ruston Webster to try it. But if owner Bud Adams fell in love with the idea and dictated that it happen, it would be a far better idea than the last time he forced a quarterback on his people.