The dust hasn’t even cleared from the biggest trade in NFL history yet and already the permutations with the other QB-needy teams are starting. With Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, and now Ryan Tannehill looking to be the 3 top-tier QBs remaining and 6 teams needing a Quarterback, someone is going to be left out in the cold. Those six teams are Cleveland, Miami, Seattle, Denver, Arizona, and Kansas City to a somewhat lesser extent.
Cleveland seems to have no luck. THAT pun is not intented but seems to be the history of that franchise. It’s been about 23 years or so since they were actually a really good team, when they had sidearm-throwing Bernie Kosar and a pair of punishing running backs named Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner. Their nemesis was John Elway’s Broncos. I still recall Jeremiah Castille causing Mack to fumble as he was inside the 5 yard line, apparently en route to a game-winning touchdown. Another 8 years before that, the “Cardiac Kids” had several last-second victories to get into the playoffs, but Brian Sipe’s magic ran out once they got there. Before that? Probably the Jim Brown era.
The upshot? If they stay at 4 overall, they’ll likely not draft stud RB Trent Richardson or Tannehill as the 4 overall is a bit high for either one. They didn’t re-sign Peyton Hillis and claim they’re happy with the backs they have. Um, okay, if they say so, but owners and front office people love the ole misdirection ploy heading into a draft. They’ll have plenty to choose from, but if Colt McCoy stays the starter, they’ll likely go after either Blackmon at WR or possibly a Morris Claiborne, who would give them one of the better CB tandems in the league with Joe Haden on the other side. With 2 first-round picks in 2012, they have the most nimble draft footprint of any team – including the Patriots.
All eyes are looking at Denver today. Peyton Manning would be such an upgrade over fan-favorite Tim Tebow it isn’t even funny. While it’s doubtful you can find a better team-first player and all around great role-model than Tebow, the kid cannot complete half his pass attempts. For now, he’s an overgrown running back (thanks, Brian Urlacher) that can throw it every bit as well as Ronnie Brown running the Wildcat, and his game has vast room for improvement. Adding Peyton Manning would instantly transform them into a Super Bowl contender, based on last year’s overall team play. John Fox had that defense playing well in the second half of the season and they aren’t lacking for high-end pass rushers with Miller and Dumervill attacking. They led the league in rushing and even if you take Tebow out of that equation, they’ve still got a hard-nosed power running game to support Manning. If they do sign him, they’ll look to sign another WR (either through the draft or the “Wayne Package”) and some help on the interior defensive line.
If Miami can’t sign Manning, they may turn to Matt Flynn. With only 2 starts (albeit it very very good ones), he’s still a question mark as the “second coming of Kolb” comparisons and questions will emerge. The upside here is that the Dolphin coaching staff is very familiar with not one of the in-demand QBs but two. Miami HC Joe Philbin knows exactly what Flynn can and cannot do since he was the Packers’ Offensive Coordinator last season. Philbin’s own Offensive Coordinator is Mike Sherman, who coached Tannehill at Texas A&M and has spoken very highly of him. Many consider Flynn a West Coast “system” QB and Sherman claims Tannehill would be confident and able to run ANY system. I’d give anything to be a fly on the wall when the Dolphin brass is discussing and comparing the two players. It now appears Tannehill won’t slip past the Dolphins’ 1st round pick at 8 overall if they cannot land a QB in Free Agency. Since Manning lives in the Miami area (and so does Reggie Wayne), I think he wants to at least wait and talk to Bobby Ross, Jeff Ireland, and Joe Philbin before he makes a final decision. A reader pointed this out to me and although I knew Peyton lived in Miami in the offseason, I didn’t go that deeply into all the reasons he might like the Dolphins outside of on-field and organizational issues. What Dad wants to uproot his family and move halfway across the country and put his children in a new school with no friends? That has to be a consideration as well.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks are both aware of these facts. KC picks at 11, Seattle picks at 12, and both also know that the Bills may not be content with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Therefore, if the Dolphins sign Flynn, they might be more willing to trade back the 3 or 4 spots to either team, should one of them want Tannehill. Things are SO fluid this time of year it’s hard to say with too much confidence exactly how things will unfold, but when you look at KC and Seattle, KC has the better QBs but a horrid offensive line. I think they need to hit it hard, early and often in the draft (FA signings pending of course).
Seattle has the better Offensive Line, has fewer holes overall, and can better afford to trade up to 8 for Tannehill. They have McGahee in the backfield to take some pressure off their QB, and if (BIG “if”) Sidney Rice can stay healthy for the entire season and Mike Williams picks up his game a bit, they’ll have some weapons in place as-is. They can use remaining picks to augment their pass rush and front seven in general.
Arizona has an outside chance of signing Peyton, but I think he’ll either sign with Denver over the weekend or wait until he talks with the people in Miami. Probably the latter, but with Elway being a HOF QB, he could possibly sway him before he leaves town – presumably with Arizona next on the list. I’m assuming Peyton waits to talk to everyone right now. Remember, the Cardinals need OL help too and their LT Levi Brown has a $17 million cap hit this season. While the Cards will certainly restructure his deal, they have to fill other holes on the offensive line and, money permitting, would probably love to have they Manning/Wayne package. Early Doucet just ain’t gettin’ it done opposite Fitz, but with clever cap manipulation, a couple of modestly-priced but solid interior offensive linemen in Free Agency or the draft, if everything comes together with Manning and Wayne they could be a potent offense with Fitzgerald already there. It’s an intriguing possibility for Manning to consider.
Things could change in 5 minutes at this time of year, but here’s how things look at the moment:
Indianapolis Colts —- Andrew Luck (double DUH)
Washington Redskins — Robert Griffin III (DUH)
Seattle Seahawks —— Ryan Tannehill (along with Miami and Denver, a playoff contender with better QB play)
Miami Dolphins ——– Peyton Manning (one of the teams closer to playoff contention among the groups aside from Denver)
Kansas City ———– Matt Cassel (OL woes – they couldn’t keep younger, healthier QBs from the hospital)
Arizona Cardinals —– Kevin Kolb (too many negatives – iffy OL, Kolb’s contract, Brown’s contract, cap woes in general)
Denver Broncos ——– Matt Flynn (Flynn is used to playing in cold weather outside, the redundant “frozen tundra” at Lambeau)
Cleveland Browns —— Colt McCoy (Cleveland rarely catches a break – why start now?)
I’ll be shocked if I’ve got 4 of 8 right at this point and the first 2 are set in stone.
Topics: Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Colt McCoy, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Kevin Kolb, Matt Cassel, Matt Flynn, Miami Dolphins, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tim Tebow, Washington Redskins