Peyton Manning to play for 49ers? Dolphins? Jets? Raiders? Hmm...
The four-time MVP quarterback is still under contract with the Indianapolis Colts and still isn't fully recovered from the neck surgery that kept him from playing the entire 2011 season.
Yet a quick view of Monday morning's headlines link Manning to no fewer than nine teams going into next season.
Which teams? Let's see, there's the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers ... that's eight. Who are we forgetting?
Oh yeah, the Colts -- the team that Manning said once again that he would like to finish his career with just last week. But two things about that. First, it is possible that he has already played his entire career in Indy (don't forget what Rob Lowe's "people" told him a couple weeks ago).
And, of course, the decision really isn't Manning's to make. He is due a $28-million bonus in March, something the Colts might not want to pay a guy whose health is in question -- especially since they hold the No. 1 overall pick in the draft with Stanford's Andrew Luck and Baylor's Robert Griffin III out there for the taking.
Last week, Manning complained publicly about the Colts' off-season overhaul, which includes a new general manager and head coach. Then owner Jim Irsay complained publicly about Manning's public complaints. By the end of the week, the pair released a joint statement saying they were both committed to "working together through any challenges the future may bring.”
While it's nice to know the two of them are still buddies, the statement did nothing to calm the storm of speculation about Manning's future. Hence all the headlines Monday morning, and probably every morning until all this is resolved.
And that does not appear to be any time soon. So let the guessing games continue!
-- Chuck Schilken
Photo: Peyton Manning. Credit: Andy Lyons / Getty Images