He is not auditioning for NFL suitors; they are auditioning for him.
The teams interested in signing the only four-time MVP in NFL history need the right qualities for a creaky-necked 35-year-old trying to recapture glory in another town.
So, given that the Redskins badly want to bid on an old Colt, it’s time to talk turkey: What do the Redskins really have that could lure Manning here?
Honest? After Daniel Snyder’s wallet and Mike Shanahan’s rebuilding program, it’s a tough sell next to other interested teams.
For one, Manning doesn’t need money right now as much as he needs to matter. If his window to take a team to the Super Bowl remains open for two to three years (he’ll be 36 later this month), he would have to believe that a franchise that’s been to the playoffs three times in 19 years — and has brought up the rear in the NFC East three seasons running — was suddenly ready for multiple postseason runs.
He would have to do this largely on faith and the belief in his own powers of persuasion, because the NFL’s best free agent wide receivers would probably not make a decision to come to Washington until they knew Manning was signed.
In addition to the burdens of rehabilitating his surgically repaired neck and becoming in an instant the Face of the Franchise, Manning would have to be the Redskins’ recruiting coordinator.
He would have to choose Washington not for what’s here; he would do it for the promise of what might be here after he signs.
The question marks don’t stop with wide receiver. The right side of the offensive line would have to be upgraded.
The Redskins gave up 41 sacks last season, which was just four above the league average but 15 more than Manning absorbed the last two seasons he played with the Colts.
Manning would have to believe left tackle Trent Williams will remain healthy, protect his blind side and not throw away a full season with another positive drug test.
The same goes for tight end Fred Davis, who would be Manning’s most viable receiving target.
The most attractive thing to Manning about Washington would probably be to work with Shanahan. The Redskins’ coach and team architect is still thought of as one of the game’s brightest offensive minds.
But would Mike and his son Kyle cede play-calling duties and the offense to one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time? Donovan McNabb didn’t think so a week ago in a radio interview when he said emphatically, “Peyton Manning is not going there,” for almost expressly that reason. For a father-and-son who only know control, that might be a bigger sacrifice than Snyder being patient and waiting for a genuine rebuild.