Manning, who is a free agent for the first time in his 14-year career, will undoubtedly cast a shadow over the entire market. The most notable victim might actually be Matt Flynn, who was supposed to set the free-agent quarterback market wherever he signed. Now, Flynn — who won’t become an unrestricted free agent until Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET — will likely become a consolation prize for one of the teams that misses out on Manning.
When assessing the shape of the star-studded 2012 quarterback carousel, there are four primary names to watch:
3. Andrew Luck
4. Robert Griffin III
Of course, Luck and Griffin won’t be available until April’s draft, so there’s a staggered aspect to this process that could stretch things out.
There are a slew of darkhorses, but there are four major franchises to keep an eye on:
1. Miami Dolphins
2. Washington Redskins
3. Indianapolis Colts
4. Cleveland Browns
The left-over teams — Arizona, Denver, Seattle, the Jets, Kansas City and San Francisco — only really factor in as teams that might take a risk on Manning, but none are considered to be players in the sweepstakes for the other three superstar pivots mentioned.
It seems to be a foregone conclusion at this point that Luck will be drafted by Indy and that either Cleveland or Washington will trade up with St. Louis to take Griffin. That would seemingly place Manning in Miami and Flynn in the city that doesn’t land Griffin, or vice versa.
Of course, it’s never that easy. And it’s completely possible that any of the honorable mentions listed above pull off a minor upset by making a move for any of the three quarterbacks not named Luck.
The speculation is already reaching unbearable levels. Get used to it.
(Picture via Andrew Brandt on Twitter)