How Will The New York Jets Play The Peyton Manning Hand?

The Jet Report explores how the Jets could approach Peyton Manning in the coming weeks

Not enough has been said out of Florham Park regarding Mark Sanchez, to change our minds about this. In seven days when the “play clock” runs out on the Colts who would owe Peyton Manning 28 million unless they release him, the Jets will be one of those teams who inquire about his services. Not just to grab a few headlines either. At first, they will try to do it subtly. It won’t work. Given their recent history, the Jets just don’t do subtle very well. On the field or off of it.

The Colts have to make a move on March 8th. If they don’t cut Manning loose, his 25 million dollar bonus kicks in. The number would be an insanely steep price to pay, when considering that QB Andrew Luck is slated to be selected first overall by Indy in the NFL Draft this April.

After the shock we all experience in seeing Manning actually let go dies down, the sharks will immediately hit the water smelling for blood.

Miami, looking to make a splash these days and in need of a starter, will claim they own the best chance to catch him. They could even be right. The Redskins and Daniel Snyder should be in the mix too because after all, an exorbitantly high priced big named star coming off of many surgeries will be available. It’s possible Peyton ends up as a Cardinal, paired with WR Larry Fitzgerald.

There will be other teams coming to the surface too. Recent reports from around the league support this belief.

The Jets? They will do more than just survey this situaton.

Because of the delicate nature of possibly having to fall back to Mark Sanchez should Manning sign elsewhere though, we expect the Jets to play it off early on. Posing as a club that is dipping it’s toes in the water just to “feel the temperature” of things.

How quickly however, could the Rex Ryan coach speak of “Mark’s still our guy” turn into “Mark was our guy,” should a crush on Peyton and the chance to sign him be too much for Jets owner Woody Johnson to resist?

Pretty quickly.

Is Manning the best move for the Jets right now? Given the legend’s health risk, age, and the addition of OC Tony Sparano to spearhead a “rushing first” attack on offense we’ll say no, but explain why in further detail another day.

Our focus for now is on how the Jets will play this hand.

We will guess that the Jets level of interest in Peyton is already more serious than just window shopping. Yet following our theory regarding the team hedging their bet to appear “Pro Sanchez” in case they lose the lottery, or learn that Manning is damaged goods, GM Mike Tannenbaum will try to employ the “stealth bomber” style.

One that calls for diving in and out of the water gathering “data” regarding Manning’s neck, cap solutions, and even Reggie Wayne, unknown to other GM’s and reporters like a Navy Seal. Tanny will do this by taking cover behind his go to tag line of doing his yearly “due diligence,” in the market. Claiming the club naturally has to look at every player and position, including Peyton Manning.

Signs of a clear interest by the Jets will become apparent however, after ESPN shows video highlights of Mr Laser Rocket Arm firing balls on a high school practice field, with Jets officials on hand. While Johnson is spotted that same night by Page Six with Archie Manning, having dinner on the West Side.

The Jets cover will have been blown. Then, look out. Can you imagine the back pages?

The Mannings May Own New York….Peyton and Eli?…Jets Trying to Steal Thunder from Super Bowl Champs.. Jets have lost faith in Sanchez. Manning-sanity.

Once that line of “covert” crosses over into “buyer” it will be tough to reel back in for any NFL club. Much less for the team that lost it’s cameo role as the top team in New York, in a matter of six winter weeks, and may want it right back. Thinking that the Manning THEY would be purchasing would be the same great one they last saw when he last played an NFL game. Against them in the 2010 playoffs.

For the Jets, the downside of a drama growing from a quiet inquiry into a media circus, is the lingering affect it could have on the guy who WILL steer the ship next season: Mark Sanchez.

A player whose confidence seems so adolescent at times, yet a guy who at 25, is still young. In need of nurturing, better coaching, and alot of emotional repairing. As opposed to further psychological damage that could be obtained from having to answer endless questions starting in July about his near exit OUT of New York.

Should Manning be pursued by the Jets yet end up elsewhere, Sanchez COULD take a lesson from Jets CB Antonio Cromartie. A player who after Nnamdi Asomugha signed with the Eagles after a maniacal post lockout chase by the Jets for the top free agent corner ended, harbored no visible ill will in playing temporary second fiddle. Cro stated instead that “it’s a business,” where teams have the right to do what is in their best interests to upgrade wherever they see fit.

As of now, with less than a week to go until the Colts press that red “detonate” button it’s all just speculation. For us, you, Manning, the Colts themselves, any NFL teams who covet him, and of course the Jets.

Gang Green could have avoided all of this Peyton talk that swims around them now, by declaring that “Mark Sanchez is the starter in 2012” with a stronger, more forceful tone since that final loss in Miami on New Years day. Instead they haven’t.

So what are we supposed to think? What many out there believe already. That the Manning sweepstakes may very well include the team from New York that doesn’t own one yet.