The Cardinals organization still remembers 1993. A 37-year-old Joe Montana was available, coming off a season where he only took 21 snaps as Steve Young’s backup, largely because of Montana’s elbow injury.
Arizona thought they had Montana in their grasp, but he chose to sign in Kansas City instead. (Montana quietly went 19-10 in two years, including two playoff wins.)
Peyton Manning’s free agent visits will be remembered two decades from now too. We’ll look back and wonder how strange it was when Manning almost replaced Tebowmania in Denver or how he almost finished his career with Larry Fitzgerald.
When Tim Tebow connected with Demaryius Thomas for their playoff game-winner two months ago, it was hard to imagine that the Heisman Trophy winner could get replaced as a starter by March.
This is John Elway and John Fox’s perfect out. They doubt they can win a Super Bowl with Tebow, yet their fanbase and Tebow’s success makes it very difficult to replace Tebow.
Manning solves everything with one move. Two-thirds of Broncos fans responding to a weekend online poll preferred Manning over Tebow. Which means only one-third of Broncos fans are crazy.
This is one of the many reasons why we love the NFL. You can’t come up with storylines crazier than the ones we get in reality.
After a fun weekend, here’s what else you need to know:
1. Manning signing would mean a Tebow trade
Tim Tebow is not going to learn the quarterback position from one of the greatest to ever play the game. Mike Florio reported on PFT that Tebow would likely be traded if the Broncos sign Manning.
It would provide a clean break and some second-guessing in Denver if Manning hurts his neck again. But it’s a reminder that the team that signs Manning is going all in. The Cardinals will cut Kevin Kolb immediately if they can sign Manning. The Tebow era in Denver will feel like a fever dream if Manning signs there.
2. Miami is in trouble
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross desperately wants to sign Manning, but the Dolphins appear to be running a distant third to Denver and Arizona in the Manning sweepstakes.
At this point, Manning may not make another official visit. He chose Denver and Arizona as his two visits because those were his two favorite possible locations. There is no other way to spin this from Miami’s perspective. Their dysfunctional ownership is likely to swing and miss at another big prize.
Kansas City and Seattle reportedly did everything possible to try to get Manning to visit, but he chose not to. Titans owner Bud Adams wants Manning; that doesn’t seem very likely either.
Situations like this are always fluid. But at this stage, it would be a major surprise if Manning doesn’t sign with the Broncos or Cardinals by the middle of this week.
3. A strong home for RG3
Manning got the attention, but Washington’s bold trade up to the No. 2 pick in April’s draft is the move that will change the NFL more over the next decade.
Manning is a short-term fix. Robert Griffin III has the ability to change the face of a franchise into the 2020’s. Griffin has to be a top-ten NFL quarterback to justify the steep price Washington gave up: three first round picks and a second rounder.
From a fantasy perspective, this was the best possible home for Griffin among limited options. Cleveland was the other strong suitor and they lack weapons and imagination. The Browns were reportedly willing to give up three first round picks to get Griffin. Mike Shanahan and Jeff Fisher’s close relationship may have closed the deal.
Mike Shanahan and Redskins G.M. Bruce Allen just bought some time. They can afford another sub-.500 season, as long as Griffin looks good. Shanahan excels at working with mobile quarterbacks. Griffin seems like a perfect fit to run the bootlegs and moving pockets that Shanahan prefers.
Shanahan’s offense is much different than the one at Baylor. But it’s a nice NFL fit for Griffin, who has the ability to throw accurately deep with pressure around him. Shanahan hasn’t won consistently in a long time, but he created plenty of yardage out of guys like Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, and even Rex Grossman. Jay Cutler’s most explosive days came with Shanahan.
There aren’t great weapons in Washington, but things would look a lot different if the team can land Vincent Jackson as hoped. Fred Davis is a dynamic playmaker at tight end, and Santana Moss remains a serviceable possession receiver. Add Jackson and Griffin would have enough tools around him to be a top-15 fantasy quarterback as a rookie.
RG3 won’t get as many rushing touchdowns as Cam Newton – Griffin isn’t physical enough to consistently get the ball at the goal line – but his rushing yards and Shanahan’s system should create plenty of big games.