Even with Super Bowl XLVI in the books, all eyes remain squarely on Indianapolis. Not because the NFL Scouting Combine takes place there in two weeks, but because Colts owner Jim Irsay has a decision to make regarding the future of quarterback Peyton Manning.
Many believe that the Colts, who hold the No. 1 pick in a draft headlined by Stanford QB Andrew Luck, will release Manning, who missed all of last season while recovering from a pair of neck surgeries and is owed a $28 million bonus on March 8 if he’s still on the team.
As we wrote last week, the Redskins have interest in Manning if he is healthy, and if he is released. But the same can be said of the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals.
The Redskins are about $30 million under the salary cap, so they definitely have cash to throw Manning’s way. But how attractive a destination is Washington?
The Redskins have a two-time Super Bowl winning head coach. But compared to the other teams reportedly interested in the quarterback, the Redskins come up short on talent.
Outside of Fred Davis, who is a free agent, Washington lacks explosive playmakers on offense. Other than Trent Williams, who, like Davis, is one puff away from a year-long suspension, the Redskins lack potentially dominant offensive linemen. Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Tim Hightower (also a free agent) could form a solid running back trio, but the Redskins don’t seem to view any of them as an every-down back.
At receiver, Jabar Gaffney had a solid first season in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. But his counterparts struggle to get off the line in press coverage. So who’s there for Manning to throw to? Leonard Hankerson showed a brief flash of potential when he finally got a chance midway through the season, but suffered a season-ending torn labrum that he still is rehabbing..
The Redskins hope to add an explosive receiver through free agency, and Pierre Garcon -- one of Manning’s favorite targets in Indianapolis – will be on the market. But Irsay is on record saying re-signing Garcon ranks among the team’s top offseason priorities.
Would Manning really want to come into a situation where the cupboard is as bare as it is in Washington? The pitch to Manning likely would center around how free agents would want to come join him and improve his supporting cast. But that’s still a lot of uncertainty. And Manning doesn’t have time to rebuild. He’ll be 36 in March. He wants to contend for titles as the sun begins to set on his career.
Manning would fix the quarterback position for the Redskins, at least for a couple years, and he could help improve Washington’s offense. But he’s got a great mind and great arm, not a magic wand. If his receivers can’t get open, and the line can’t hold off the rush while he waits for someone to break free, how effective can he be?
The Dolphins – like the Redskins – went 6-10 last season, but are believed to be favorites to land Manning, partly because he owns a home in the Miami area. The Dolphins have a new coach, but at the same time, they offer weapons such as Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush.
The Jets have Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Dustin Keller, Shonn Greene, and the backing of a strong defense. The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald and a thousand-yard back in Beanie Wells.
Again, it’s still too early to know how the Manning saga will play out, but despite their interest – if Manning is healthy – the Redskins’ chances might not be the greatest.