Possible locations for Peyton Manning

You might have heard, but Peyton Manning could be a free agent. 

And if Manning departs from the franchise that he led to the land of success, you can expect a lot of teams to look at bringing Manning in to win a championship.

While Colts owner Jim Irsay made numerous comments about getting a new deal done with Manning to help their cap situation, it still looks like a deal will not get done.  If that happens, watch general managers sprint to the phones to get a deal out to him. 

The Washington Redskins really seem to be the team to top the list of franchises willing to give Manning a contract.  Being in a quarterback-loaded NFC East presents a challenge to the Redskins who play against Michael Vick, Tony Romo and Eli Manning.  If Shanahan wants to bring the Redskins to the next level, he needs to get a reliable passer to kickstart the offense. 

Washington’s willingness to get Manning in may not mean that much to the future Hall of Famer, who has earned a considerable amount of money from the Colts.  Instead, Manning might consider going to a team that only has one missing piece: a quarterback.  No team fits that description better than the Arizona Cardinals. 

Arizona passed on Blaine Gabbert in last year’s NFL Draft to get LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.  No one questions Peterson’s solid rookie performance, but many questioned why the Cardinals did not select Gabbert.  The threat of an NFL lockout loomed over the draft and forced many teams to grab a quarterback early.  In the first 12 picks, Carolina (Cam Newton), Tennessee (Jake Locker), Jacksonville (Blaine Gabbert) and Minnesota (Christian Ponder) all chose quarterbacks.  Arizona, at pick five, did not.  Instead, they traded for former Philadelphia Eagles backup Kevin Kolb after the lockout ended.  Kolb’s performance in Arizona left many feeling underwhelmed.

Matching up Peyton Manning with Larry Fitzgerald is nothing more than an absolute dream for offensive coaches.  And Ken Whisenhunt wants to make that dream a reality.

That might be why Whisenhunt hired Frank Reich, the Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach in 2009-10, as the team’s wide receivers coach.  Already the Cardinals are bringing in people that Manning is familiar with, which would make the transition easier. 

Another team being rumored for Manning services is an Indianapolis Colts AFC South rival: the Houston Texans.  Some reporters have tried to discourage the notion that the Texans would be interested in acquiring Manning, but Schaub’s history of injuries should at least make the Texans’ management look into the possibility.  And just like the pairing of Manning with Fitzgerald, a combination of Manning to Andre Johnson would be an equally exciting thought. 

With a top five NFL defense already in place, the Texans feel that they can make a legitimate run for the championship if they can keep a reliable quarterback healthy.  If the reports of Manning’s interest in going to Houston are true, then expect the Texans to follow up and offer Manning a contract.

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