Peyton Manning Would Make Jets Formidable Force, Tomlinson Says

Peyton Manning would make the New York Jets a formidable force in the National Football League and could lead quarterback Mark Sanchez to ask to leave the team, running back LaDainian Tomlinson told the NFL Network.

“His resume tells you he’s going to come in and we’re going to win,” said Tomlinson, who’s set to be a free agent next week after spending the last two seasons with the Jets. “When you’re up against that as players, it’s hard to not say you want a guy like Peyton Manning. He’s one of the greatest players of all time.”

Manning’s release yesterday by the Indianapolis Colts made the NFL’s four-time Most Valuable Player one of the most desirable free agents in history. He won 141 games and a Super Bowl title in Indianapolis, where he helped the Colts become one of the league’s elite teams with a $720 million stadium.

Reno, Nevada-based Cal Neva sports book gives the Jets a 9.5 percent chance of signing Manning, whose younger brother Eli plays in New York and last season won a second Super Bowl title with the Giants, one more than Peyton.

The Jets ranked 21st in the league last season with 3,297 yards passing, while Sanchez, who will be entering his fourth NFL season, was 23rd among quarterbacks with a 78.2 rating. The previous season, Manning ranked 10th with a 91.9 rating.

“This is a good fit for him,” Tomlinson said of Manning. “The Jets already have a very good offensive line, a good receiving corps and they run the ball really well. They get Peyton Manning in that division, it could be pretty scary.”

Big-Name Quarterbacks

The Jets have gone after big-name quarterbacks before, trading for Brett Favre before the 2008 season, and are interested in signing Manning, the New York Post said, without citing the source of its information.

While Manning turns 36 on March 24 and is working his way back from at least three operations on his neck that kept him sidelined for all of last season, he said he has no plans to retire and is excited to play again.

By releasing Manning, the Colts avoided having to pay him a $28 million bonus today. The team has said it will select Stanford University quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in next month’s draft.

“In life and in sports we all know that nothing lasts forever,” Manning said. “Times change, circumstances change and that’s the reality of playing in the NFL.”

The Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins are regarded by oddsmakers and NFL analysts as the most likely teams to sign Manning, whose 54,828 career yards passing and 399 touchdown passes rank third in league history.

Kolb Contract

Arizona has six-time Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald as a potential target for Manning, yet also acquired quarterback Kevin Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles last year and gave him a new contract. Kolb, 27, had a 3-6 record as a starter for the Cardinals, missing seven games because of injury.

Cal Neva gives the Cardinals a 19 percent chance of landing Manning, followed by the Dolphins at 16.5 percent and Redskins at 13 percent.

Andrew Brandt, a former Packers executive, said Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Redskins owner Dan Snyder have a history of being “enamored with name brands and willing to pay a premium for those name brands.”

“The other part is these teams do not have any ties to the present quarterbacks, either emotionally or financially,” Brandt, an NFL business analyst for ESPN, said on ESPN Radio. “That’s why I don’t put them in the same category as a team like Houston or Arizona. I think those teams have enough ties to the quarterback that’s already there that they’re not going to jump in headfirst like the other two.”

Ross Covets Manning

Ross has told associates privately that he covets Manning, the Miami Herald said without citing a source. The Redskins will pursue Manning intently and are fine with the medical risks associated with signing him, the Washington Post said, citing unidentified people familiar with the team’s plans.

Manning owns a condominium in South Beach and two weeks ago spent time in the Miami area throwing passes to Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, the Herald said.

“I’m throwing it pretty well,” said Manning, whose record streak of 227 straight starts ended last season, months after he signed a five-year contract that paid him a $20 million signing bonus and a $6.4 million base salary. “I’ve still got some work to do, some progress to make.”

Chiefs Interested

Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said at last month’s NFL scouting combine that he’d be interested if Manning was a free agent.

Kansas City is given a 7.5 percent chance of signing Manning, according to RJ Bell, the founder of Las Vegas-based handicapping information service, followed by the Seahawks at 6 percent. There’s also a 6 percent chance Manning retires from the NFL.

The Houston Texans are given a 4 percent chance of being Manning’s next team, followed by the 49ers and Denver Broncos at 3 percent and the Tennessee Titans at 1.5 percent.

“Assuming Peyton Manning is healthy, he’ll be on a mission and he’ll be out to prove to a whole lot of people he’s got a lot left,” former NFL coach Jon Gruden, who won a Super Bowl title in Tampa Bay, told ESPN. “He’s going to evaluate every one of his options.”

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