Sometime in the next week, Peyton Manning's future will be determined. He will either remain with a horseshoe adorning his helmet or start looking elsewhere to resume his illustrious career, all of this with the caveat of health.
If Jim Irsay decides not to saddle up and spend $28 million, Manning will hit the road and become the most accomplished free agent in NFL history.It's easy to narrow down the teams that will have interest in Manning, but none of them make as much sense as Kansas City. We've all heard the scuttlebutt. Washington needs a quarterback (among 52 other players), Miami has a billboard and great weather, Seattle has a gaping hole behind center, and New York only has a beleaguered Mark Sanchez.
The Chiefs not only are a better fit than all of them, but Manning and Kansas City need each other. The same can't be said for the other suitors.
Washington is in a rebuilding phase. The Redskins can add Manning and are still arguably the worst team in their own division. It's a hard sell that Manning will go to a team likely to never win while he's there. At his age, it's all about having a chance to win another Super Bowl now.
The Dolphins have a solid defense and a few playmakers but lack a real foundation on offense. Brandon Marshall is the definition of mercurial and while Reggie Bush is certainly a respectable back, he's far from a star. It also stands to reason Manning won't want to share a division with Tom Brady.
Seattle has already come out and said they're not interested in a short-term answer at quarterback. It's possible to make an argument for the Seahawks with Marshawn Lynch, Sidney Rice and Zach Miller on the team. However, the rest of the team is remarkably average and again, it's tough to see Seattle making a serious run at the Super Bowl in the next few years.
New York is nothing more than a pipe dream. The Jets have major cap issues and would Manning really want to deal with that soap opera all season? No more needs to be said, this isn't happening.
Now look at Kansas City. Matt Cassel has a large contract, but with the amount of cap space the Chiefs have it can be absorbed. Kansas City also has the talent to make a Super Bowl run without any major improvements.
Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, and Tony Moeaki are more than any of the teams above can offer...by a mile. If the Chiefs solidify the right tackle position, Manning is playing behind a good line and on the most loaded offense in the AFC. Who else can compete with that type of ability? Jonathan Baldwin and Dexter McCluster weren't even mentioned above, and they would definitely be a top target on any of the other suitors.
Defensively, Kansas City has freakish athletes dotting the landscape. Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson and the entire secondary are elite (sans Stanford Routt, who's no bum). For once in his career, Manning wouldn't have to score 27 points per game to secure a win.
The biggest question mark is how Manning feels about Romeo Crennel as a coach. Then again, is Crennel really a lesser coach than Pete Carroll, Joe Philbin, Mike Shanahan and Rex Ryan?
Shanahan did win two Super Bowls, but has done nil since John Elway. Ryan has made it to AFC Championship games in back-to-back years, but he's a loose cannon and seemingly on a sinking ship. Considering how well Crennel has game-planned Manning, maybe No. 18 feels like Crennel can get the job done.
The pieces are in place for Manning to come in and put the Chiefs over the top. If he ends up signing on the dotted line to play at One Arrowhead Drive, the AFC West goes through Kansas City without a shadow of a doubt. Heck, Manning's presence makes the Chiefs odds-on-favorites to see the Big Easy in February.
The last time Kansas City saw the Super Bowl was the 1969-70 season. Wasn't that game also played in a place named New Orleans?