Shanahan will say: “The idea that we can’t coexist is total nonsense and we both know it. We got a taste of what it would be like to work together at the Pro Bowl, and came away tantalized.
“I’ve said for years there is not another quarterback in this era who can run an offense like you do, who deserves to be fully in charge of his check-offs and protections. You know my opinion of you, and I know your opinion of me. It would be a meeting of like minds. I’m your safest and best choice for a coach.”
There are drawbacks to playing for the Redskins, of course, and Shanahan can’t sugarcoat those.
There is still work to be done on the roster, and Snyder remains an owner with an unpredictable tripwire, despite two years of restraint. But every other team courting Manning has drawbacks, too.
Miami’s Joe Philbin has never been a head coach at the age of 50. Rex Ryan’s style makes for a volcanic, rivalrous New York Jets locker room, and what’s with how easily disenchanted he is with young Mark Sanchez? Arizona has to build an offensive line almost from scratch, unlike the Redskins, who are much further along in rebuilding their interior, and Ken Whisenhunt has no more job security than Shanahan does.
In fact, the Redskins have as good a chance of landing Manning as any team.
They can’t know what will be the decider.
It won’t be money, which at this point in Manning’s career is simply a mark of respect. It’s more likely to be an intangible, some instinct or affinity or caution. It’s said he doesn’t want to play against his brother Eli and the Giants twice a season, but is that a deal-breaker? Who knows?
Meantime, the Redskins have plenty of attractions to throw at Manning, including one seldom mentioned: the power of location. No other team can offer Manning the chance to live in, play in, and partner with such an illustrious city.
Shanahan should say: “We know from your obvious emotion at leaving the Colts that you are seeking more than just a job, you’re seeking an attachment, a relationship. Come visit us. Stand on the roof of the W Hotel and look at the monuments by moonlight, glittering like a necklace of jewels against dark velvet. What other city can promise you such a splendid, prestigious, and appreciative home? It would be a rich reward to win here, of all places.”
For previous Sally Jenkins columns, go to washingtonpost.com/jenkins.