It's bad enough the Washington Redskins must fend off Miami, Seattle and Arizona while pursuing Peyton Manning. Now there's an unexpected new suitor -- Jacksonville.
Whenever Indianapolis decides not to pay Manning his $28 million roster bonus (which is due Thursday), the scramble for the future Pro Football Hall of Fame passer will be furious. The four neck surgeries that cost Manning the entire 2011 season and supposedly some arm strength should bring massive caution to signing him. But the NFL is all about quarterbacks, and teams will be overly aggressive despite not knowing whether his arm will be ready until training camp.
Miami seems Washington's biggest rival. Arizona and Seattle feel more like secondary options for Manning.
But then Jacksonville pops up on the prospect list. Owner Shahid Khan wants Manning as a marketing tool for a team that's just a couple more losing seasons away from becoming the Los Angeles Jags.
Khan seems like the latest version of Redskins owner Dan Snyder -- a self-made billionaire who paid $760 million for the team, hates his quarterback and wants to start marketing with a big name. The Jags have about $45 million in cap space, and Khan will match Snyder's wallet. Manning reportedly wants at least $13 million for this season, and both owners know they'll earn that much in merchandise and ticket sales alone.
Jacksonville can offer Manning an elite running back in Maurice Jones-Drew. Manning's best days in Indianapolis were when he was coupled with Edgerrin James. The Redskins can't match the Jags' backfield.
Manning can also gain more control with Jacksonville than Washington. The Jags will rework the offense for Manning. The Redskins seemingly won't redo a practice schedule for a passer. Ask Donovan McNabb.
As for the Jaguars drafting quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the first round last season, Khan already says he would have taken Tim Tebow if he owned the team in 2010, so Jacksonville seems ready to abandon last year's investment.
The Dolphins appear closer to winning than the Redskins. The weather is warmer, which can't be understated to someone recovering from neck surgeries. It's in the AFC where Manning has spent his career and would surely be more comfortable.
Manning's decision will be influence by players around him. Miami offers Brandon Marshall. Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald. Washington has a suspect offensive line, no standout receiver and uncertainty over free agent tight end Fred Davis returning.
The Redskins could promise to be major free agent buyers if Manning comes. The sixth overall choice could also produce an offensive tackle, receiver or running back. There's enough potential there to convince Manning that he wouldn't be alone in Washington.
Manning could be signed in hours or it may take days. But come the start of NFL free agency on March ?13, he'll likely be with a new team.
Maybe it's Washington.