Last week, Dolphins fans like myself, began to get excited by the thought of what could be. It happened as soon as reports surfaced that Peyton Manning was medically cleared to return to the NFL. We all sat back and watched the public relations war between Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning….and we loved every minute of it. We even included Peyton as one of the choices for the Dolphins QB Plan. I realized that I am in the minority on liking the idea of Peyton Manning on the Dolphins…Matt Flynn came out on top of our QB Plan Poll, with over 50% of the votes. I believe that most Dolphins fans are afraid of Manning’s health and his age. Hard to argue with either, especially considering the latest news.
Reports began surfacing yesterday that Peyton Manning might not be as close to returning to the NFL as many had believed. Yes, Peyton’s neck is structurally sound. However, Peyton Manning’s current arm strength is not Peyton Manning’s old arm strength. Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star said that Manning has a ‘noodle arm’. So, Peyton’s arm strength is probably somewhere between my sister’s and Chad Pennington’s. I’m not trying to make fun of him, just trying to point out what his arm strength is really like.
We also saw these quotes from Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network (via @evansilva on Twitter):
“He can’t throw. I’ve talked to ppl who’ve caught the ball for him. He can’t throw the ball to his left”
“He can’t throw…across his body bc he doesn’t feel it. Ppl that catch the ball for him say he doesn’t really have velocity”
So why is Peyton throwing the ball with a ‘noodle arm’? Well, Peyton’s arm strength will return when his nerves regenerate. It could happen in the next month….it could happen in 3 months….it could never happen. That’s the trickiest thing about this situation. Peyton is expected to sit down with Jim Irsay this week to discuss future plans. Given Peyton’s current arm strength, I don’t see any way that Jim Irsay will keep him on the Colts and pay him the $28 mil bonus. There is the possibility that the Colts could redo Peyton’s contract. However, it’s more likely that they will simply release him.
If the Colts release Manning, he instantly becomes a free agent. They will likely release him within the next 1-2 weeks. The question for any NFL team interested in him (like the Dolphins), will be whether or not they believe he’s making progress and regaining arm strength. Imagine Jeff Ireland signing Peyton to a contract with the Dolphins on March 10th and putting all of his eggs in the basket of Peyton Manning’s arm regaining strength. What if it never does? Jeff Ireland would be run out of town. Going all-in on Manning is a huge leap of faith, because the rest of the offseason would probably focus on putting pieces around him (not finding a young QB to develop behind him). It’s a risky gamble that could pay off big for the Dolphins if Manning returns to his old self….or it could bust if Manning’s arm never fully strengthens. The Dolphins should proceed with caution on Manning.
Given the current state of Peyton’s arm, you have to think that the Dolphins are seriously considering Matt Flynn or RG3. RG3 will cost a lot in terms of draft picks. Therefore, Matt Flynn, in my opinion is the next best option to a HEALTHY Manning. But as we have said before, Joe Philbin has the best information on Flynn, so if the Dolphins target Flynn, they’re doing so knowing all of his strengths and weaknesses.