Three years ago, Peyton Manning was the hottest free agent in football. That may be the case again this offseason, albeit for an entirely different reason.
NFL Media's Albert Breer reports there's a "widely held assumption" around the league that if Manning opts to hang it up at the end of this season, he will become a leading candidate for several open front office jobs. Will Brinson of CBS Sports backs up Breer's report, saying there will be a "bidding war" if Manning decides to retire.
The two likeliest landing spots for Manning appear to be the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns, both of which are in the midst of seemingly perpetual rebuilding efforts. Manning supposedly has a good relationship with Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, who is also a University of Tennessee alumnus. The Titans make sense because of Manning's ties to the area –– he has a home in Chattanooga –– and the possibility of Manning nurturing No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota. Breer also mentions the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts as possible, though less likely destinations for Manning.
Injuries are piling up for the 39-year-old Manning, who missed practice this week with a foot injury and is also suffering from a rib cage injury. Manning has struggled mightily this season, throwing a league-leading 13 interceptions and only nine touchdown passes. Though he's signed through 2016, the combination of injuries and poor performance could persuade him to retire before his contract up.
Despite Manning's struggles, he still has a chance to capture two NFL records Sunday. He's only three yards shy of becoming the NFL's all-time leader in passing yards and would become the winningest QB ever if the 7-1 Denver Broncos can secure a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Given the Broncos' success this year and Manning's place in the record books, there remains a chance he will come back for his 19th NFL season. But if he doesn't, there promises to be plenty of suitors for his services, even though he'll no longer be throwing passes.
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