Darnell Dockett wasted no time launching his campaign to get Peyton Manning to join the Arizona Cardinals.
“Peyton to AZ!!!!!!” Dockett tweeted Tuesday as word circulated that Manning would be released by the Colts, which he was this morning.
As Dockett made clear in subsequent appearances on the NFL Network and ESPN, this was not intended to disparage Kevin Kolb, the quarterback the Cardinals signed to a five-year, $63.5 million contract, $21 million of it guaranteed, less than a year ago.
“I don’t have anything against our quarterback we have now,” Dockett said. “I feel confident in him. Who wouldn’t want to play with Peyton Manning?”
Seriously. The Broncos should feel the same way.
The Jets have Mark Sanchez, the fifth overall draft pick in 2009, and they’re reportedly ready to make a play to make New York a two-Manning market.
In short, there is no good reason for the Broncos not to join the party. All Manning can say is no.
A Broncos spokesman said Wednesday the team will have no comment on the matter until next week.
It is no knock on Tim Tebow, in whom the Broncos have a smaller financial investment than the Cardinals have in Kolb or the Jets have in Sanchez, to suggest that he could learn a thing or two from a four-time NFL most valuable player. Nor is it an exaggeration to say that adding Manning would add a rocket booster to the Broncos’ plan to return to contention.
Based on eyewitness reports and a brief video of a Manning throwing session last week at Duke University, he is much closer to being ready to play again than many observers expected after multiple surgeries to repair a neck injury. While he said Wednesday he still has some progress to make in his throwing, he is a well-known perfectionist, and the video from Duke showed him throwing both long and short distances with no apparent trouble.
Manning will turn 36 later this month. Assuming he can stay healthy, he should have several productive years left in him.
The difficulty for the Broncos, of course, would be persuading him that Denver is the best spot for him. The Dolphins, Redskins, Jets, Cardinals and Seahawks are all expected to make plays, and there could be others. Of those teams, only the Jets could argue they are significantly closer to competing for a championship than the Broncos, and even that’s debatable after the Broncos beat them last season.
It’s possible that Manning, who has played his home games indoors throughout his tenure in Indianapolis, will prefer a warm-weather climate. The Broncos can’t do anything about that, but it can’t do any harm to make pitch. They’ll never know unless they try.
One factor in their favor is they have as much room under the NFL salary cap as any team in the league. How much of it they would be willing to devote to a veteran quarterback is another matter, but unless Pat Bowlen has more financial troubles than we know, money should not be an obstacle.
Bottom line, there is no reason not to make a pitch. Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. He’s available. He still wants to play. He will dramatically improve some NFL team. Why not the Broncos?