The Redskins were said Thursday to face a number of obstacles in their bid to sign Peyton Manning, as Washington and several other NFL franchises began their courtship of the free agent quarterback.
“There are a few significant issues” for Manning and his representatives as they evaluated the Redskins’ interest in him, one person familiar with the discussions said. That person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stopped short of saying that Manning would not play for the Redskins.
But another person with knowledge of the team’s deliberations said the Redskins probably had a better chance to complete a trade with the St. Louis Rams for the second overall choice in next month’s draft. The No. 2 draft pick would position Washington to select Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III of Baylor.
Redskins officials declined to comment.
The Redskins were in contact with Manning’s representatives, several people familiar with the situation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. There was speculation that Manning’s deliberations about a new team could move quickly toward a possible resolution next week, and some within the league continued to regard the Miami Dolphins as the front-runner to sign him.
Among the other teams said to be in pursuit of Manning were the New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos.
The hurdles faced by the Redskins include their 11-21 record in Coach Mike Shanahan’s two seasons and their current lack of a sturdy offensive line and reliable group of wide receivers.
Manning would have to play his home games in an outdoor stadium with the Redskins. He would have to jump conferences from the AFC to the NFC and would have to play two NFC East games per season against his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Here’s a look at some of the teams besides the Redskins believed to be in the Manning hunt:
Pros: The Dolphins boast playmakers such as Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess at wide receiver and Reggie Bush at running back. Four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long would protect Manning’s blind side. Miami has an offensive-minded first-year coach in Joe Philbin, an innovative offensive coordinator in Mike Sherman and a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL. Manning also has a home in the Miami area.
Cons: Would Manning want to play for a rookie head coach? The Dolphins play in the AFC East, which means Manning would have to share the division with rival Tom Brady, facing him twice a year.
Chances: High. The Dolphins appear to be the front-runners in the Manning chase. Playing in a warm-weather location could prove attractive to Manning, who played all of his home games in a dome the past 13 years.
Pros: Denver reached the playoffs with a rather limited Tim Tebow at quarterback. With a strong defense and running game, the Broncos figure to make dramatic strides with Manning. Coach John Fox is willing to do what it takes to win; he scrapped a traditional offense for the spread attack that played to Tebow’s strengths last season.
Cons: Tebow remains a popular figure with fans, so signing Manning might upset some of them. Playing in the elements of the Mile High City could be a drawback.
Chances: Good. Manning is said to favor remaining in the AFC. And he wants to win now, not spend years waiting for a team to develop around him.
New York Jets
Pros: Another team in win-now mode, the Jets have playmakers such as Santonio Holmes, Shonn Green and Dustin Keller and a top-five defense. Manning certainly would ignite an inconsistent offense. He also would play in the biggest market and share a stadium with his brother Eli, but they would be in separate conferences. Coach Rex Ryan likely would turn the reins of the offense over to Manning.
Cons: The Jets have made a significant investment in Mark Sanchez, whom they drafted fifth overall in 2009. They also are limited financially and would have to maneuver to land Manning.
Chances: Good. It wouldn’t be shocking for the Jets to pull it off. But given their financial constraints, and the investment in Sanchez, there is uncertainty.
Pros: Manning would be able to throw to one of the league’s top wide receivers, Larry Fitzgerald, and would have the support of a talented young running back in Beanie Wells.
Cons: Arizona’s defense is pretty average, and outside of Fitzgerald and Wells, there’s not as much for Manning to work with
Chances: Moderate. Although Fitzgerald and Wells make the Cardinals attractive, they don’t compare to some of the other situations at Manning’s fingertips.