Pursuing Manning makes sense for Broncos

My official Inside-the-NFL source — the same fellow who keeps me running just a couple of steps ahead of the government — local accountant Jeff Wendland, broached the question about a week ago:

So why don’t the Broncos sign Peyton Manning and trade Tim Tebow to Jacksonville, where he will be revered for the next decade or so even if he never learns to throw a spiral?

Being a realist, I scoffed at the very idea.

First, it bordered on sheer insanity, because the Broncos surely would never shell out the required amount of legal tender to sign Manning, assuming, of course, it had been determined by any number of qualified physicians that he could indeed throw the ball again after (at least) four neck surgeries.

Second, it’s blasphemy in these and most other parts of the known universe to think Tebow may never pan out, especially given the fact he has spent the offseason learning how the throw spirals from 3-, 5- and 7-step drops. Trade Tebow? How dare you suggest such a thing?

Now, however … sources even closer than the aforementioned Wendland have reported the Broncos have contacted Manning’s agent because, like many other NFL teams, they are doing their due diligence.

The rumor mill has it that teams interested in Manning include (and this is in approximate order of actually having a shot at signing him): Miami (money and no legit QB), Houston (money and a good QB in Matt Schaub, who could be traded for a high draft choice), Washington (money, an owner who will overspend with the best of them and no legit QB), Arizona (money and a highly priced but relatively inefficient QB in Kevin Kolb), the New York Jets (money and Mark Sanchez, a huge question mark), Seattle (more money than maybe all the rest and no legit QB), and, yes, Denver (money and you-know-who).

Now, I ask you, if you are Peyton Manning and you have already collected more than $200 million in salary and another big chunk through advertising, where are you going to go?

Miami, where Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush and maybe your old buddy Reggie Wayne would go very nicely with an outstanding young defense? And, oh, yes, the weather is quite nice if you don’t mind the occasional downpour.

Houston, which has a super young team, a great running back in Arian Foster and one of the league’s top receivers in Andre Johnson, and, yes, a dome?

Washington, which boasts Mike Shanahan, a coach who loves a passing offense, but has virtually no talent to speak of on either side of the ball?

Arizona, similar to Houston in terms of weather, a super wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald, but without much other playoff-caliber talent?

Seattle, which has Microsoft money, a super running back in Marshawn Lynch, a good young defensive team but an offensive line that could get him killed?

The Jets? Peyton in the Big Apple with brother Eli? Hmm.

Or Denver, where Elway is a buddy, but you have John Fox, who never met a 2-yard run he didn’t like, a defense that is a work in progress and wide receivers and tight ends that are not exactly world beaters?

The realist in me says it’s Miami or Houston.

I have this sneaking suspicion the people running the team don’t believe Tebow is the answer at QB.

Will the Broncos go out and get Manning?

I put the odds at 20-80 on no.

But know this: If Elway and Fox and others in the Broncos’ front office are indeed looking to upgrade at quarterback — with plenty of time yet to spend on drafting, trading and free-agent maneuvering — you can bet those odds could change very rapidly.

I see smoke rising. Normally, that means there is a fire.


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