Peyton Manning will reportedly make a decision regarding his future this week and one interested spectator will be
free agent quarterback Alex Smith.
After leading the 49ers to the NFC title game last season, Smith rejected a three-year, $24 million contract to remain San Francisco’s starting quarterback and now may jump ship to the Miami Dolphins.
Smith visited with Miami’s braintrust including head coach Joe Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland on Saturday to discuss all things Dolphins.
However, there is a greater power at work in the Smith’s case – Mr. Manning.
Smith’s trip to Miami appears to be an exit strategy in case Manning joins the 49ers.
Much like the potential Tim Tebow debacle that looms in Denver should Manningnot sign there, Smith could still end up in a 49er uniform but there would be some necessary mending of fences prior to next season.
The collective NFL lusting over Manning does beg a question.
Does any NFL front office/coaching staff owe their mediocre quarterback an apology for pursuing one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history?
No, but it’s complicated.
Any team that loses out on Manning will have to go back to work with a quarterback that they basically tried to drop. Figuring out how to convince a locker room that the quarterback they just tried to eliminate is the guy that can take them to a Super Bowl is rather difficult.
Perhaps, the easiest path on the road to placation is money.
When rumors floated around about the Jets and Manning, what happened soon after?
Meanwhile in Denver, John Elway’s courtship of Manning is indirectly undermining his quarterback of the moment, Tim Tebow. The best answer for Elway may not be a “monetary apology” but instead cut or trade Tebow. It’s obvious that Elway is not sold on him. Why keep up the charade at this point?
Tennessee has the easiest out of the pursuing teams. Second-year quarterback Jake Locker would enroll into the Clipboard Holding Academy for Young & Inexperienced Quarterbacks while watching Manning at work. Of course, Manning’s arrival in the Music City would also spell the end of the road for Tennessee’s starter from last season, Matt Hasselbeck.
Circling back to Smith, if San Francisco doesn’t end up with Manning, Jim Harbaugh will have to put on his psychologist cap if the Niners want to retain Smith’s services for 2012.
Last January, Smith led the 49ers to within a few plays of reaching the Super Bowl. Months later, Harbaugh is trying to put Smith on the Fredo Corleone fishing boat.
Ultimately, I don’t think Smith wants to leave San Francisco but I don’t think he wants to get got either.
Photo courtesy of NinersNation.com