The Peyton Manning Free Agency Victory Tour is only superficially like the Brett Favre Dance With Me Free Agent Victory Tour in that Manning is a proud Super Bowl-winning Hall of Fame quarterback coming off a devastating neck injury looking for a job, while Favre was a proud Super Bowl-winning Hall of Fame quarterback coming off a devastating interception looking for a job.That being said, the question of whom Peyton's going to go steady with has turned this NFL offseason into a Jane Austen, as various unsuitably ruffianish but wealthy callers have pressed their suits, whilst the ethereal Peyton has dithered over commitment whilst actually orchestrating the whole grand dance to his benefit1.
Now, there were some places Peyton would never go. New York, for one - never mind the Jets' "commitment" to Mark Sanchez, there was no way Manning would share the limelight with or invite comparison to his brother. With that in mind, here's a rough breakdown of Manning's likely landing spots, from Most Likely to Least Likely:
Denver - Denver needs a quarterback. No, seriously, they need a quarterback, because they don't have one. Even if the reports of Manning's recovery are false and he can't throw the ball better than Garo Yepremian, that's still a step up from Tebow. And the arrival of a genuine certified bona fide midasized Hall of Famer like Manning would provide enough cover for John Elway to have Tebow quietly bundled up and shipped off to Jacksonville in the truck of a 96 Coupe de Ville.
Arizona - Arizona's best quarterback last year attended Fordham. Think about it.
Miami - Dan Marino is still Miami's best option at quarterback, and at this point his entire body has been transformed into an Isotoner glove. They have a talented receiver, which aging quarterbacks tend to like, and, err, their owner has a lot of money. A whole lot of money.
Cleveland - Hahahah. Just kidding.
Baltimore - Because it's totally the quarterback's fault that the kicker missed, and thus Joe Flacco must be replaced. Also, that defense would put Peyton back on the field a lot, and if there's one thing aging quarterbacks like more than having one talented wide receiver, it's the chance to pad their stats extensively.
Creighton - With National Player of the Year contender Doug McDermott, the Blue Jays are a serious Sweet 16 Contender, and adding a long-range gunner like Manning could help them out. Also, adding a NCAA Championship Ring to the trophy collection would keep him one step ahead of Eli.
Kansas City - Rumor suggests that Manning is interested in following in the steps of the legendary Joe Montana by finishing his career out in Kansas City, mostly horizontally.
New England - Manning is said to be intrigued by Bill Belichick's plan to move him to strong safety on passing downs.
1There is nothing wrong with Manning orchestrating things to his benefit. You get leverage, you use it. What is ridiculous, however, is the willful blindness of the sports media to the fact that Peyton is in fact orchestrating things to his benefit, as opposed to fluttering from city to city on waves of ethereal football goodness. This is a guy who locked another QB out of the film study room while in college, for God's sake. He's not Mother Theresa in cleats, and he never has been.