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Peyton Manning Decision has Trickle-down Effect on QBs

11:43 AM, Mar 20, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON - No free agent has ever driven a wilder, more quarterback-centric offseason feeding frenzy than Peyton Manning.

This frantic scramble continues to affect teams and quarterbacks even after the Denver Broncos won the Peyton Chase over the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers- as reported by ESPN, citing multiple people, and the Associated Press, based on a person with knowledge of the discussions.

Since Manning was released March 7 by the Indianapolis Colts, a dizzying game of musical chairs broke out affecting more than one-third of the 32 teams.

When Manning visited Broncos headquarters March 9, the New York Jets extended Mark Sanchez's contract and the Washington Redskins orchestrated a blockbuster deal with the St. Louis Rams. The Redskins traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder to move up from sixth overall in next month's draft to the Rams' No. 2 overall spot in a bid to secure Heisman Trophy-winning passer Robert Griffin III.

And just because Manning has settled in Denver, don't think the quarterback carousel has stopped. Tim Tebow, the Broncos incumbent, figures to be traded, perhaps into a starting job opportunity with the Miami Dolphins or Jacksonville Jaguars.

But let's consider the winners in the post-Peyton world:

•Matt Hasselbeck: The 36-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler who led the Titans to a 9-7 record despite the Week 3 loss of big-play wide receiver Kenny Britt to a season-ending knee injury, gets a new lease on what might have been a one-and-done Tennessee tenure after owner Bud Adams spurred an all-out Manning blitz.

Now Hasselbeck has the benefit of an offseason to help elevate the team he signed a three-year, $21 million deal with July 29. Manning's Denver arrival also buys more time for 2011 first-round pick Jake Locker to develop behind Hasselbeck without getting lost in Manning's shadow.

•Alex Smith: The free agent gained leverage in negotiations with the Dolphins and is well positioned to raise the ante on a three-year, $24 million offer from the 49ers. The path could still be clear for Smith to re-sign with the team he led to a 13-3 season and spot in the NFC Championship Game.

Consider how the road to winning a Lombardi Trophy would seem more accessible in the NFC West than in the AFC East given the presence of three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady with the New England Patriots and pass-rushing disruptor Mario Williams, who joins the Buffalo Bills.

The question is, can Smith get beyond coach Jim Harbaugh's not-so secret pursuit of Manning? Or will Harbaugh be forced to go with 2011 second-round pick Colin Kaepernick?

•Kevin Kolb: The Arizona Cardinals quarterback received a $7 million option bonus when they learned they no longer were in the Manning derby.

•Ryan Tannehill: The mobile, strong-armed Texas A&M quarterback is widely considered by draft analysts the third best passer in the draft after Stanford's Andrew Luck, the presumed first overall pick, and Griffin.

Tannehill could be reunited with former Texas A&M coach and new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. Problem is, Miami selects eighth overall and Tannehill is soaring up draft boards even before his March 29 pro day.

The Cleveland Browns at No. 4 could tab Tannehill or leverage a trade with Miami, which lost out to the Seattle Seahawks in their bid to sign former Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn.

Stay tuned as Smith and Tebow stand front and center - with Tannehill lurking in the background - for that Miami chair in this ongoing, wild offseason quarterback scramble.

 

USA Today

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