If Peyton Manning is healthy, Seahawks must roll out red carpet
The Seahawks only need to spend billionaire owner Paul Allen's money — he probably lost Manning's $20 million-a-year salary in his couch, right?
Seattle Times staff columnist
Peyton Manning, the prodigious and prolific quarterback, is a free agent now. Call it a head-turning situation, but be careful. Manning has a fused neck.
If not for that serious medical red flag, Manning would be the most coveted free agent in the history of sports, even at age 36. Then again, if Manning hadn't undergone multiple neck surgeries and missed the entire 2011 season, he would still be winning in Indianapolis, and the Colts wouldn't be poised to turn to Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Nevertheless, there will be a sprint to sign the four-time NFL MVP.
Here's hoping the Seahawks wear their best running shoes.
The Seahawks should pursue Manning aggressively. Of course, they'll have to scrutinize his neck, but if their medical staff confirms that he's healthy enough to play, it's a no-brainer to make a push to sign the best pure quarterback of this era.
There's no need to overthink it. It's this simple: The Seahawks don't have a quarterback good enough to make them true title contenders, and Manning, even if he returns at 80 percent of his greatness, makes almost any team an instant contender.
Most enticing is that, with Manning, the Seahawks could continue their rebuilding and win, too. Signing the quarterback won't dramatically alter any of general manager John Schneider's long-term plans.
This is the priciest way to solve the Seahawks' quarterback problem, but it's also the least complicated route, provided Manning is healthy. The Seahawks wouldn't need to trade a load of draft picks to get Manning, which is what they'd have to do to move up in the draft and take Robert Griffin III. They wouldn't need to overpay for an unproven quarterback such as Matt Flynn. They wouldn't even need to change what seems to be their plan: Draft a quarterback outside of the first round and let him sit and develop on the practice field for a few years.
The Seahawks only need to spend billionaire owner Paul Allen's money — he probably lost Manning's $20 million-a-year salary in his couch, right? — on a short-term deal and brace themselves for a stretch of seasons with double-digit wins, postseason appearances and legitimate shots at an elusive Super Bowl victory.
Schneider and Seahawks coach/vice president Pete Carroll have devised a solid plan that is working well.
The Seahawks, with so much young and promising talent already performing at a high level, are primed to be a playoff team — if their quarterback can help them a little more. Tarvaris Jackson had a decent 2011 season. He battled through a pectoral injury, he wasn't the disaster that some feared, and in an ideal world, maybe he'd deserve one more chance as the starter.
But the Seahawks lost six games in the fourth quarter last season, and assuming the rest of the team continues to grow, an upgrade at quarterback would help Seattle climb from 7-9 to at least 10-6.
With Manning, the Seahawks could go from having a questionable quarterback situation to one of the strongest in the league. Jackson is a solid backup, and the Seahawks could draft a quarterback in a middle round to compete with Josh Portis for the No. 3 job.
You could argue that Manning, who turns 36 later this March, doesn't fit one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Or you could imagine how a superstar veteran could expedite the Seahawks' growth.
Manning wants to win, and he has won with all kinds of teams — young, old, star-studded, no names, no defense. He'll pick the team that gives him the best chance to win another Super Bowl, and just as important, after being released by the Colts, he'll want to see who loves him the most.
The Seahawks likely won't be favorites to sign Manning, who has lived all of his life in the South or Midwest. But if they pursue him with purpose and unleash Carroll the recruiter, then they can win his services. They can't shuffle, though. They can't go after Manning like the Mariners went after Prince Fielder. They must inspect the neck, but they can't forget to flatter the star.
Do the Seahawks want to continue with a happy little plan that, in theory, should work? Or do they want to add a Hall of Famer to a team that would've had playoff expectations next season even without Manning?
Do they want to win their way? Or do they want to win big?
The opportunity is there. Manning is a free agent.
No guts, no greatness.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or email@example.com
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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