Pass on Man­ning; make play for RG3

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather -

Well, the long-ex­pected deed is done. The In­di­anapo­lis Colts have sev­ered ties with Pey­ton Man­ning, the quar­ter­back who made the fran­chise rel­e­vant again and changed the sports land­scape in bas­ket­ball-ob­sessed In­di­ana. Gen­tle­men, start your check­books. One of the great­est QBS of all time is up for bids.

The weeks lead­ing up to the NFL draft will get a whole lot more in­ter­est­ing now that Man­ning of­fi­cially has been added to the equa­tion. And they al­ready were riv­et­ing be­cause of the spec­u­la­tion sur­round­ing the sec­ond pick and which team might trade up to take Robert Grif­fin III, the Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner from Bay­lor. Now Man­ning is out there, Grif­fin is out there and some other in­trigu­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties (Matt Flynn, Kyle Or­ton, Texas A&M’S Ryan Tan­nehill) also are out there. And here’s the thing: You could make a de­cent ar­gu­ment for any of them, de­pend­ing on how much cap room you have, how well po­si­tioned you are in the draft and how close

you are to con­tend­ing.

But you also could make a de­cent ar­gu­ment any of them. Man­ning, af­ter all, has had sev­eral neck surg­eries and still isn’t 100 per­cent. RG3, Flynn and Tan­nehill, mean­while, are un­proven. As for Or­ton, he’s put up some num­bers, but he doesn’t quicken any­body’s pulse. It’s your clas­sic risk-re­ward sit­u­a­tion. Some clubs prob­a­bly will hit it big on a quar­ter­back, and some will get badly burned.

It would be nice if the Washington Red­skins were in more con­trol of their destiny, but there are just too many vari­ables, too many other clubs in need of a QB. What you have, ba­si­cally, are two timeta­bles col­lid­ing: the St. Louis Rams’ timetable for trad­ing the sec­ond pick and Man­ning’s much more un­cer­tain timetable for re­gain­ing the strength in his arm and the abil­ity to play at a high level. What if, when the Rams are ready to do the deal, there still are ques­tions about Pey­ton? Do you switch gears and make a stronger play for Grif­fin, or do you roll the dice with No. 18 — and draft an­other quar­ter­back for in­sur­ance? See how complicated it can get?

Be­sides, Man­ning is in a po­si­tion to pick and choose. It may not

what the Red­skins want. They could throw the most money at him, prom­ise to sur­round him with fa­mil­iar faces such as Reg­gie Wayne, of­fer to tai­lor the of­fense to his spec­i­fi­ca­tions, and it still might not be enough. He might not think the Red­skins are near enough to a cham­pi­onship. Or he might not want to play in the same di­vi­sion with brother Eli. Or he might have doubts about a fran­chise that has strug­gled for al­most 20 years — and an owner who, too of­ten, has been his own worst en­emy. Pey­ton Man­ning isn’t a player Dan Sny­der can just buy.

In a per­fect Red­skins world, Man­ning would have a com­plete re­cov­ery, he’d do in Washington what Y.A. Tit­tle did in New York at the end of his Hall of Fame ca­reer (three ti­tle games in three years, mul­ti­ple MVP awards), and he’d give Mike Shana­han time to groom a suc­ces­sor, one who would keep the team in con­tention for an­other decade.

But “per­fect” and “Red­skins” rarely are seen in the same sen­tence these days. A much more re­al­is­tic — and from my stand­point, ad­vis­able — sce­nario is that the Red­skins jump into the RG3 pile with both cleats and see if they can pos­si­bly se­cure the sec­ond pick with­out chop­ping off too many of their limbs.

Ev­ery­body got car­ried away with Grif­fin’s 40 time and ver­ti­cal jump at the com­bine, but that’s not what’s most ex­cit­ing about him. What’s most ex­cit­ing is that, along with be­ing a tremen­dous phys­i­cal tal­ent, he’s an I mean, it’s great to be able to run a 4.38 or to leap 39 inches, but it’s hardly a pre­req­ui­site for a fran­chise quar­ter­back (as Man­ning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees have shown).

At any rate, this NFL off­sea­son prom­ises to make up for the one we missed last year, when the own­ers and play­ers were arm wrestling over money. Pey­ton Man­ning is in play — and Red­skins One, you can be sure, is gassed up and ready to go. Let the grov­el­ing be­gin.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pey­ton Man­ning col­lects his thoughts as he speaks Wed­nes­day dur­ing a news con­fer­ence in In­di­anapo­lis. The four-time MVP is a free agent, but are his best days be­hind him?

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