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Free Agency 2012 And The Last I'll Say On Peyton Manning.

We have done an unusual amount of speculating and insinuating since the news broke that Peyton Manning kinda-sorta-might be considering the Titans as a destination. Well, that's the NFL in March for you I guess, a large majority of humanity is reactionary and that seems to be even more true during any given offseason. In any case, the guess-work has been rampant, but it's hard to fault anybody because what else are we supposed to do with such a dearth of information concerning the health of his neck?

Why, form opinions based on conjecture of course!

At the end of the day, this is an article about seeing the potential upside in signing Peyton Manning, not a handbook as to why he needs to be signed ASAP. I'm all for putting this money somewhere else and going forward with Jake Locker as the starter, but we must all begin to open our minds to the possibility that Manning could be a Titan in 2012.

Fact: none of us know whether or not Peyton's neck will hold up in 2012, however, I have an unwarranted amount of faith in the "it will" camp because of the fact that he's willing to take a deal that carries most of its' weight in its' performance based incentives. One would think the Titans would include a number of games that Peyton must start to collect a payday. Then again, one would think the Titans wouldn't sink nearly $50 million in a running back whose main tool is his speed, but that's an argument for another day. There's another aspect of this that I think we can easily overlook: does Peyton recognize that the QB of the future is already on the roster and that he may have to step aside and play teacher for awhile? I think that this would be one of the main discussion points that Munchak brings up with Manning during their meeting this week. At the same time, I'd be willing to bet all my Monopoly money that Munchak has a similar conversation with Jake Locker within the next couple of days about how he's going to be the guy soon enough.

It's not that I think that robo-Peyton is going to be the same player as the #18 that tore our defense to shreds for years, but is he not an immediate upgrade for the next year or two? I'd say so. Consider that his worst season ever (rookie year not included) would be one of the greatest passing seasons in Titans franchise history. Not only that, it just makes sense. Manning and Palmer go way back, Munchak and Manning's dad played together, the personal connection aspect is there, the pass protectors to protect the million dollar neck are in place with David Stewart and Michael Roos, he's got Kenny Britt, Chris Johnson, and Nate Washington at his disposal, and if anybody can make Jared Cook a star, it's Peyton Manning.

Some of the concern comes from the point of view that this somehow disables Jake Locker from learning/developing. A majority of these concerns are voiced by the crowd that thinks Manning is about as likely to start all 16 games next year as I am, so what's the big deal? Either way, Locker plays. Additionally, Locker is still about as much of an unknown quantity as Manning is. There are too many question marks surrounding him to just pass up this opportunity. His time will come for sure, heck I'd love for him to start this year, This is not a Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers scenario, let's not try to make it seem that way.

To sum it all up, I feel like all of this animosity towards Manning in a Titans uniform would evaporate pretty darn quickly if we really do "support the laundry", because if he's healthy (I think he's good to go) then he instantly makes this team a Super Bowl contender, literally overnight. We've been clamoring for any possible way to get to the Super Bowl. Well, this is a way. It's a gamble, but it's not one that really has a good chance to come back to burn us in any significant fashion, and the potential reward is unspeakably good. Matt Hasselbeck will never win this team a Super Bowl. Jake Locker will likely go through some adversity. If we're really in a "win now" mode, then it's time to start acting like it by signing the best guys on the market who make 2012's finished product markedly better than 2011's. If Bud and the front office are willing to wait, it's best to just sit on our hands and pray that our boy Reinfeldt made the right call on Locker.

So do I support it? If it's financially viable, meaning also if he's willing to structure a deal based largely on incentives, and if he checks out physically, then I'm not necessarily opposed to it. That's more or less as far as I'm willing to go.