Peyton Manning will take your calls at 4:00 PM today to join the NFL club near you. I can tell you that Manning to the Washington Redskins would be a very controversial move. Very controversial.
Redskins fans recognize that Manning is a top three quarterback in the history of the NFL. But, the Snyder-era diet of big name, over the hill stars from other teams triggers a gag reflex. You see it in comments on Hog Heaven's Facebook page. Tweeps have anti-Manning hashtags, #nomanningndc, #RG3nBnG, #RG3INDC.
The timeline is all wrong for #RG3INDC. Free agency occurs before the Draft. There is no certainty that the Redskins will beat out other teams in the bidding war for the St. Louis Rams' Draft spot (No. 2 overall). Greg Trippiedi pointed out last night that 'Skins fans would not understand passing on Manning then losing out on Robert Griffin III. The opportunity for Manning comes first.
So the Redskins figure to be in the thick of the bidding for the elder Manning brother. Why else would the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora station himself at Redskins Park today?
Count me among the skeptics on Manning's health. I want him to stage a Pro Day first. His medical exam by team doctors will be held in extreme confidence with great deference to Manning's own assessment of his condition. Hmmm.
If you are like me, and I know I am, here is what you want to see happen next.
The Miami Dolphins outbid everyone to sign Manning to a two year, $70 million contract, $50 million guaranteed. Dolphins' owner Steve Ross is the new Daniel Snyder with the mantra, "Nobody leaves the building without a deal." This scenario works just as well with the New York Jets where team owner Woody Johnson will also spend big and he operates in a larger market to better recoup the cost. The important point is that some other team takes Manning off the market.
The Cleveland Browns sign free agent quarterback Matt Flynn and set up a training camp competition with Colt McCoy to start. There's a very good chance that Mike Holmgren is leaking these stories as a "viable alternative" to intimidate the Rams into taking less for a trade. That's a well-known negotiating tactic. (I've been trained. I know.) The Flynn alternative plays out long before the NFL Draft, so the Rams will know whether Holmgren is bluffing. Signing Flynn takes the Browns out of the running in the RG3 sweepstakes. That move both clears the way and reduces the price for the Redskins to move up to the Rams spot.
Really? One man can change the world?
Sports fans are shallow thinkers. They root for teams but follow players — the human element. Thus, fans buy into the thought of one player changing the fortunes of a team. That's understandable for fans, but unforgiveable for professionals that run teams.
Fans who advocate for Manning do that with the expectation of his 2004 performance: 49 TD passes, 10 INTs, 4,557 yards, 67.6 percent completion rate.
A GM and head coach should see the 36-year-old Manning delivering a one-off of his 2010 performance for a new team. Manning's 2010 performance was 33 TD passes, 17 INTs, 4,700 yards, 66.3 percent completion rate.
Now, project that an 80 percent healthy Manning will deliver 80 percent of that performance for his new team. Thus, 26 TD passes, 14 INTs, 3,760 yards, 53 percent completion rate. Fifty-three percent is too low for Manning, so we arbitrarily raise it to 60 percent. Those are Hog Heaven's benchmarks for Manning's success where ever he goes.
For comparison, the Grossman-Beck duo delivered 19 TD passes, 24 INTs, 4,058 yards, 58.5 percent completion rate for the Redskins. Not so far off as you might have guessed.
If you are like me, and I know I am, the projection for Manning is not big enough to go all in on him. The hype for Manning is a buy-in of his illustrius past. To quote Joe Gibbs, "The past doesn't buy you much." Gibbs, for all his achievements, could not build a sustained winner in Washington. DC sports fans will recall the Michael Jordan experience with the Washington
Fans have had their fill with Grossman-Beck and will not fill the stadium to see them play. Manning will fill the stadium. Griffin the Third will fill the stadium and the season ticket waiting list. That's the pocketbook difference between Grossman, Manning and RG3.
Is is a coincidence that the Redskins and the Browns, the two teams believed most interested in trading up for RG3, are both pursuing alternatives? Have the Rams priced themselves out of the market? Note to Jeff Fisher: Strike a deal before 3:59 PM Et today. Your bargaining leverage goes down at 4:00 PM Wednesday. It goes down a lot more if either Cleveland or Washington find their man before the Draft.