Whispers are circulating that Peyton Manning does not want to play for the Washington Redskins and that he so informed the team. When has anyone said "no" to Daniel Snyder?
To Mike Shanahan? Yes, it was done when undrafted rookie Tony Romo turned down the offer to join Shanahan in Denver to sign instead with the Cowboys for half the money. But to turn down a Snyder offer? Never.
It's the offseason. Everybody's lying. Keep that in mind when you hear these stories.
With Peyton, like Romo, it's not solely a matter of money. Jim Irsay paid the man $26 million last season despite Manning's pain in the neck.
Manning has a set of criteria that guide his choice of his next team -- and the choice is his more than the team's. The Redskins are not a very good fit.
Washington is more than a season away from challenging for the Super Bowl. Mike Shanahan has the Redskins on the glide path to division contender by 2013 and to higher achievements thereafter. Manning will be done by then.
I don't quite buy Marshall Faulk's contention that Manning will only consider AFC teams to avoid games with Brother Eli, who has twice the Super Bowl rings as Peyton. That takes teams like the Arizona Cardinals out of the mix. That takes Larry Fitzgerald out of the mix. The Cards were sixty seconds away from Super Bowl victory with Kurt Warner and Fitzgerald and Fitz has all his skills to do it again.
Manning may prefer to avoid NFC East teams because of Eli, but even that has limits. Houston and Tennessee crop up as teams of interest. Both are Indianapolis' division rivals. Indy is the team and town Manning so loves. If he considers playing for an AFC South team, then playing the Beast is not out of the question.
Manning is of such stature that every coach, even Mike Shanahan, would promise to defer to his way to run the offense. A kiss is not a promise and Coach Mike has that whole Donovan McNabb thing to live down. There's a quarterback union or something. McNabb arrived in Washington as a man of stature and departed with his reputation in tatters.
Manning's skills are declining, if you can call 33 touchdown passes in 2010 a "decline." He is recovering from four neck surgeries. Shanahan did not show himself to be empathetic to McNabb. Would Shanny question Manning's conditioning? That has to be a factor in Manning's decision.
Here's the irony and the case for Shanahan. He learned to live with imperfection last season when he accepted that Rex Grossman gave him the best chance to win. Winning with imperfection makes one a better coach.
Whether Shanahan would defer to Peyton in preference to junior (Kyle) is another issue entirely. If Manning professes loyalty to Eli, he will understand the burden he would put on coach Mike and his offensive coordinator.
Washington needs Manning a lot more than Manning needs Washington. Thanks to good front office management by Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen, Washington has the salary cap to acquire any receiver that suits Peyton's fancy. (Insert Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Vincent Jackson here.)
That's not exclusive to Washington. Every team recruiting Manning can make the same claim. Landing players of that caliber would make Rex Grossman look good. The Redskins have to do that regardless of Manning's decision.
What hurts Washington and helps teams like Arizona and Miami is that they have the ingredient that attracts Manning — a go-to receiver already on the roster. If there is a lesson for Snyder, it is to grow your talent organically so that a blue chip free agent like Manning can see that he alone will not be expected to carry the team. Strong teams, not cap money, attract strong players.
Snyder is not throwing Albert Haynesworth money at free agents anymore. Maybe he gets it now. It took long enough, if true.
If Manning did rebuff the Redskins, Shanahan might ask as a favor to deny any such notion to the media. As long as Manning is on the table, the Rams might be more flexible in its trade demands. We already know that top free agent receivers do not look favorably on Washington because Rex Grossman is the last quarterback image in their head.
Manning might go along with it because, as long as Daniel Snyder is on the table, he can hint at stupid money being thrown his way. Manning may not be the performer he once was and money may not be the motivating factor, but he isn't stupid.
There is a business cliche' that selling begins when the customer says no. We know Dan Snyder can sell.