Peyton Manning Miami Dolphins Watch, Day 8: If it's not Manning, Dolphins are rebuilding

Yes, it's draggin' on. But let's look at it from the other side for a moment. Let's look at what happens if they don't get Peyton Manning. In that case, the Dolphins are rebuilding, even if they won't use that un-marketable word.

The Dolphins still think they're in the Peyton Manning Sweepstakes, no matter what others say. They think they could still win the big prize.

"We're still in the running,'' a source said Wednesday.

It's hard to see how trading the top playmaker in Brandon Marshall helped the cause. But these insiders are behind the curtain. They have more information. They could be used, leveraged, delusional or just plain optimistic about the facts before them.

Still, look at it from their side for a moment: Shouldn't they be chasing Manning to the last minute? Don't owner Steve Ross and General Manager Jeff Ireland get some dose of credit for thinking big in this, just as they should?

As importantly, is anything lost by chasing Peyton? Anything at all but, perhaps, a little face if they lose out?

The Dolphins are still meeting with free-agent players and, in the case of nose tackle Paul Soliai, signing him. Signing him at the price they wanted, too. Ireland has made mistakes, either on his own or as part of the Parcells regime.

But give him some due here. He not only kept an important part of the Dolphins' defense, but he read the Soliai market properly. The price was a fair, two-year, $12 million contract.

The Dolphins also are watching the Matt Flynn Market drop before everyone's eyes. This is another side benefit to waiting for Manning. Everyone is getting a realistic view of what the football world thinks of Flynn.

If he was seen as a franchise quarterback, Flynn would have been offered a deal the minute the free-agent period started. Did you see the feeding frenzy over Robert Griffin III resulting in the ransom of three first- and a second-round pick Washington spent to get him?

Flynn is having the opposite effect. Teams are backing off. Cleveland is taking a pass, preferring instead to consider taking Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the fourth pick in the draft. That's interesting.

Seattle scheduled a visit with Flynn for Thursday night. That's two days after free agency began. That's not exactly hustling the deal. Plus, they're bringing him in right after Chad Henne, which puts things in a certain perspective.

The question remains if new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin wants to marry his head-coaching career to his former resreve at Green Bay. There's time, if he does. Flynn's price won't be too steep, judging by the interest.

If it comes to that, the Dolphins' question would be whether they try to leap-frog Cleveland to Minnesota's No. 3 spot in the draft to get Tannehill. They have more information than anyone on Flynn and Tannehill. Offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was Tannehill's college coach.

Again, if it's Flynn or Tannehill, the Dolphins are rebuilding. Again: They won't phrase it that way. They have too many veterans under big-money deals and season tickets to sell to phrase it exactly like that.

But as the Marshall deal suggests, this offense is under some repair right now. The right side of the line needs retooling. A top receiver. Probably another receiving tight end. Depth. Speed. A lot of things are on the shopping list.

The only question left is if there's a couple of years to develop players or it has to be fast-tracked if the Dolphins land Manning.

"We'll see," the source said.

Manning visited Tennessee on Tuesday. Tennessee was his college home. South Beach is his winter home. Who knows what it all means considering no one knows what's in Manning's mind.

All we know is the Dolphins think they're in it. And they're doing just what they should and you should demand of them — playing this out to what's becoming a very long end.


Comments