2014 NFL Draft: Could Peyton Manning Personally Pick His Successor?
Between DeSean Jackson being released because of his potential gang connections and Aldon Smith announcing that he had a bomb in an airport, the offseason has been filled with NFL players making headlines for all the wrong reasons. While it is to a lesser degree, quarterback Peyton Manning will now join his fellow league-mates in a potential off-the-field issue.
The story that is gaining momentum is that the Denver Broncos‘ offensive coordinator, Adam Gase, met with Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban on the same day and in the same vicinity that Manning did. The NFL collective-bargaining agreement bans players from having meetings with coaches before a team starts its offseason workout programs.
While it will be difficult to prove that any rule was violated, it is hard to conclude that anything underhanded would have taken place. Saban is friends with Archie Manning, and Saban claims that the signal caller for the Broncos was picking his brain to try and help improve his game. It may not seem believable that one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history would try to find ways to improve his performance at 38 years old, but Manning is one of the hardest working players in the game.
With a Super Bowl loss this past season, it is not unlikely that Manning has continuously run through scenarios and plans to try and get another ring before he retires. He will do everything in his power to return to a championship game in 2014, and he may feel that Saban could help him find some fresh perspective.
An angle that I have not seen taken, however, is that Manning could be interested in finding his replacement. It is almost impossible to predict where former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron will be drafted, but the Broncos hold some late selections at the end of each round that would allow them to select a quarterback who is falling in the draft. If McCarron is still available in the fourth round, the Broncos may jump all over him.
Manning is completely dedicated to the NFL, and that means he wants to leave his team with the ability to win after his departure. He will groom his backup over the next few years, and Manning will partly be judged for how his replacement will develop under his mentoring. Saban obviously has first-hand knowledge on the character and skill of McCarron, and he would be the best source for Manning to learn from.
This story of potential rule violations will quickly become a non-issue for the league. Following any stories around the Broncos selecting McCarron, however, will be far more interesting.