Examining where Peyton Manning could land


Examining where Peyton Manning could land

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Peyton Manning could be the missing piece for the Miami Dolphins. Or, the Arizona Cardinals. Maybe even the New York Jets or Seattle Seahawks. Washington, Kansas City, Denver and Tennessee also are possible suitors. But for now, where the free agent quarterback lands is anybody's guess. Including Manning's. "I have no idea who wants me, what team wants me, how this process works," Manning said. "I don't know if it's like college recruiting where you go take visits. I mean, this is all so new to me." The four-time league MVP was released by the Colts on Wednesday after spending all 14 of his NFL seasons in Indianapolis, but made it clear he still wants to play football. Plenty of teams will be interested in the 35-year-old Manning -- as long as he proves he's healthy after missing last season while coming off a series of neck operations. If everything checks out, the laundry list of teams will be lengthy -- a Peyton-palooza of sorts. And, why not? Manning has been one of the greatest to play his position, rewriting record books while throwing for nearly 55,000 yards and 399 touchdowns, and winning a Super Bowl along the way. "I realize that I'm not going to play forever, and I think I'm going to know the time to stop playing," Manning said in South Florida, where he has a home and flew to after the news conference in Indianapolis to announce his release. "But right now," he added, "I still want to play." Rex Ryan's Jets could be the landing spot, a scenario that would have Manning sharing the New York-area headlines with his brother Eli of the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. That sure would ramp things up in their sibling rivalry -- and the teams' back-and-forth battle for the city spotlight. It would also likely signal the end for Mark Sanchez after three up-and-down seasons. The Dolphins have said they would strongly pursue Manning if he became available, even after Matt Moore had a solid season while taking over for a team that has tried to replace Dan Marino since 2000. "Dan Marino is my all-time favorite quarterback after my Dad and after Eli," said Manning, whose father Archie played 14 NFL seasons. "He's No. 3 on my list, so everybody knows how I feel about him. I literally have not had one conversation with anyone about these teams." The Cardinals, three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, are an intriguing possibility with one of the game's top wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald. But they still have a lot of money invested in quarterback Kevin Kolb. "There will be no other Peyton Manning," Colts owner Jim Irsay said. Which is exactly why the quarterback will be one of the most sought-after free agents in NFL history. Here's a look at some of his options: ------ ARIZONA CARDINALS: Certainly having Fitzgerald there would give Manning a game-changing receiver. Arizona would also offer Manning a warm-weather climate. The Cardinals also have been known to go after the big-named signal caller, as they did with Kurt Warner a few years ago. Coach Ken Whisenhunt gave Warner lots of freedom at the line of scrimmage and would have no problem doing that with Manning. The problem? Arizona made a big splash last offseason when it signed Kolb to a huge contract, and would owe him a 7 million roster bonus on March 17 if he remains on the team. ------ DENVER BRONCOS: What about Tebow Time? Well, despite going 8-5 and guiding the Broncos back to the playoffs for the first time in six years, Tim Tebow lost four of his last five starts and completed fewer than half his passes. Team vice president John Elway has said Tebow will be the starter when training camp rolls around -- but stopped short of naming him the QB for the season. That's because there are still plenty of questions about Tebow. The Broncos haven't had a franchise quarterback since Elway retired following his second straight championship more than a decade ago. But they're eager to see what Tebow can do with a regular offseason and dedication to becoming a pocket passer. Sure, he could learn a few things from Manning being around, but his growth could also be stunted. ------ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Matt Cassel was a Pro Bowl quarterback just two years ago, but a healthy Manning would be a step up. A big one. The Chiefs also have a terrific trio of young playmakers in running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end Tony Moeaki. Manning would have people around him to make plays. And coach Romeo Crennel put the Chiefs in the conversation when he welcomed the idea of having Manning on his team at the NFL combine a few weeks ago. Still, Kansas City owes Cassel 5.25 million this year, 7.5 million next year and 9 million in 2014 -- a hefty bill for a backup. They also have a new offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll, and general manager Scott Pioli is often hands on when it comes to that side of the ball. Would there be a clash? ------ MIAMI DOLPHINS: When the Dolphins hired the offensive-minded Joe Philbin as coach in January, team officials privately said they would go after Manning if he became available. Miami has money, terrific talent and warm weather: three big selling points. Manning also has a home there. The team has started 16 quarterbacks since Marino retired, but Moore played well last year after Chad Henne was sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury. There are doubts, though, that Moore is a franchise quarterback, and if the Dolphins don't sign Manning, they may pursue Green Bay's Matt Flynn or try to trade up and draft a quarterback in the first round. ------ NEW YORK JETS: Ryan has repeatedly expressed his admiration and respect for Manning, and the Jets aren't far removed from winning. They went to consecutive AFC championship games before in-fighting contributed to the team finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Sanchez has been the face of the franchise since they traded up to draft him fifth overall in 2009, but the Jets -- who made a huge splash by acquiring Brett Favre four years ago -- have said they will look at every position if they can improve. They also had Tom Moore, Manning's former offensive coordinator, as a consultant last season, although it's unclear if he'll be back. Despite the Jets' recent success under Ryan, the locker-room discord might be a deterrent for Manning. He also might be unwilling to play in the circus atmosphere of New York, a town in which Eli has become a huge star. Think the city's media would play up the sibling rivalry? Salary cap issues also might prevent the Jets from being a true contender. ------ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Seattle has its franchise running back in Marshawn Lynch, and seems to be solid on the outside with receivers Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Doug Baldwin and tight end Zach Miller. The offensive line is young and improved, but the remaining question for Seattle's offense is at quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson toughed his way through a painful pectoral injury for more than half of last season, but was never overly impressive. Manning could be the answer. Still, Jackson has never been given much of a chance as a starter and played fairly well while battling his injury and was respected in the locker room. ------ TENNESSEE TITANS: Fans have already started a "Come Back, Peyton" campaign, with billboards and radio ads pushing for Manning to return to Tennessee, where he starred in college for the Vols. The Titans drafted Jake Locker with the No. 8 pick last April and signed Matt Hasselbeck to a three-year deal last July, but they went 9-7. They have around 30 million in cap space they need to use on finding a pass rush. While a happy homecoming would make for a nice story, general manager Ruston Webster has said twice in the past month -- to season-ticket holders and at the NFL combine -- that the team is happy with its quarterbacks. ------ WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Owner Dan Snyder always seems to be in play when it comes to signing big-name free agents, and the Redskins are in major need of a quarterback. Mike Shanahan has whiffed on three (Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck) in his two years in Washington, and the Redskins are expected to pursue Manning if they can determine he's healthy. They have plenty of cap space, and the Redskins can lobby Manning by saying they'll use that room to be aggressive in free agency. But that also could make them less appealing to Manning, since they're lacking at so many positions.

The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line


The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line

Jonathan Toews' offense usually comes in spurts. We're seeing it again right now.

But it's no coincidence his numbers have spiked since Patrick Kane joined him on the top line.

After recording another two points in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks captain has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games; he had 11 points in his previous 23 games total.

Toews also reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th straight season, joining Kane and Alex Ovechkin as the only three active players to accomplish that feat to open their NHL careers.

Kane has seen his offensive production pick up, too. He has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in his past 13 games after going five straight without one, which was his longest point drought of the season.

When the two of them are on the ice together at even strength, they control 57.9 percent of the shot attempts. It hasn't quite translated on the scoresheet (14 goals for and 17 goals against) maybe the way it should, but they are certainly spending far more time in the offensive zone than the defensive end and are generating a high volume of shots.

So yes, reuniting the dynamic duo has worked stats-wise.

But it comes at a cost:

— Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz haven't scored in six straight contests.

— Alex DeBrincat's season-long goal drought is up to 13 games.

— Artem Anisimov's last even-strength goal came nine games ago.

When you put Kane and Toews together, you risk losing some balance across the lineup and that's why Joel Quenneville has always been reluctant to go to that nuclear option. He prefers when opposing teams are forced to play 'Pick Your Poison.'

Ideally, you'd like to spread out the scoring, but one thing is for certain: The Blackhawks are better when Kane and Toews are each producing offensively, whether they're apart or together. 

When the wins start to dry up though — and they have — that's normally when it's time to try something different.

Perhaps more importantly, the last thing you want are those scoring droughts mentioned above to stretch even further and get inside the younger skaters' heads, then carrying it with them into the offseason.

Morgan Park claims back-to-back Class 3A state titles with win over Southeast

Morgan Park claims back-to-back Class 3A state titles with win over Southeast

PEORIA -- Morgan Park claimed its second consecutive IHSA Class 3A boys basketball state title with a 71-56 win over Springfield Southeast on Saturday afternoon.

The Mustangs (25-9) jumped out to a 35-27 halftime lead and maintained control for good when senior guard and Player of the Year candidate Ayo Dosunmu took over the game at the end of the third quarter. With the Mustangs clinging to a one-possession lead in a chippy game, the Illinois commit calmly scored eight straight points on three possessions to give Morgan Park a comfortable 54-45 advantage heading into the final quarter. Playing in front of his future college head coach, Brad Underwood, Dosunmu finished out a memorable high-school career with a Class 3A state-title record 28 points.

Senior Cam Burrell added 11 points and eight rebounds for the Mustangs while sophomore guards Adam Miller and Marcus Watson also chipped in 11 points each.

Southeast (29-4) was playing for its first boys basketball state title in school history, but they ultimately fell short after the third-quarter rally. Junior Anthony Fairlee led the charge with 16 points and 10 rebounds for Southeast before fouling out while Terrion Murdix (12 points) and Kobe Medley (10 points) also finished in double-figures. With only one senior starter this season, the future still looks bright for Southeast for next season. The Spartans should return another strong team as they'll once again be a factor in the state title race.

Saturday's win marks the fifth boys basketball state championship for Morgan Park and the fourth state title in six years for the program under head coach Nick Irvin. Clearly the most dominant Class 3A team in Illinois, the Mustangs have the look of a long-lasting dynasty. Morgan Park has advanced to Peoria in five of the last six seasons and the roster still features plenty of young talent. Miller could be a Player of the Year candidate in the area next season. Watson should also step up when they become upperclassmen.   

Morgan Park also became the second Chicago Public League program to claim back-to-back IHSA state titles in 2018 after Orr captured the Class 2A title last weekend in Peoria.