With the recent report by CBS’ Jason La Canfora of both the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns interested in offering Peyton Manning a front office role once he retires, now is the time to begin dreaming of how a Manning-led front office in Cleveland may look like.
While Cleveland already defeated Tennessee on the gridiron back in Week 2, 28-14, thanks to two long touchdown passes from Johnny Manziel to Travis Benjamin, the off-the-field game to lure ol’ Peyton is akin to that of high-stakes poker.
On one hand, you have the Titans, that can play to Manning’s loyalty to the University of Tennessee and the allure of returning to his adopted home state to help lead the Titans and their young signal-caller in Marcus Mariota to that elusive Super Bowl win.
The advantages that Tennessee offer Manning over Cleveland are many, but most importantly include that they already have a franchise QB in place a promising young roster of talent and play in a more winnable division—the AFC South.
In the case of the perpetually dysfunctional Cleveland Browns, he has a long-standing and close relationship with Jimmy Haslam—a long-time UT supporter and close family friend, a storied franchise looking for the right kind of front office leadership to trickle down and some nice young talent that can be molded into Manning’s image.
Perhaps this is wishful thinking on my end, but my gut tells me that due to Manning’s tight relationship with Haslam, that he will choose Cleveland over Tennessee and relish the chance to work alongside Haslam to get the beleaguered Browns back on the right track.
If the Browns want to make a splash that they are actually serious about putting a competent team on the field, than luring a big-name and former Super Bowl champion such as Manning would a bold step in the right direction.
Whatever Haslam has to do to bring Peyton to the Rock and Roll Capital, whether it is offer a stake in ownership, etc. this needs to be done. For the sake of fans who are clinging to the remote and faint hopes of the Browns ever being a relevant franchise again.
In the event that does actually happen, here is a glimpse into what a Peyton Manning-led front office in Cleveland may look like.
Head Coach: Adam Gase (current offensive coordinator, Chicago Bears): Not many people know this, but the NFL is all about networking and who you know. It is no secret that Manning LOVED working with Gase during his time in Denver en route to a 43-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
Manning put up career highs in passing yards (5,477), touchdowns (55) in Gase’s top-ranked offense. If Manning can lure the offensive-minded Gase to Cleveland, that would be a great first hire for him.
General Manager: Brian Xanders (Senior Personnel Executive) : While the man who drafted him out of Tennessee in Bill Polian would be a dream hire for both Browns fans and Manning alike, that may not come to fruition. Instead, Manning decides to bring in the man, who first lured him to Denver in Xanders.
As I wrote here about Xander’s impressive background in day-to-day operations, college and pro scouting, player development and personnel, he had a hand in landing Manning, drafting linebacker/defensive end Von Miller, wide receiver DeMaryius Thomas, tight end Julius Thomas and signing strong safety Brian Dawkins.
Xanders would be a home run for Manning and the Browns, as he would immediately revamp and re-toll the team to both he and Manning’s vision.
Draft Cal QB Jared Goff with the No.1 Pick in the 2016 NFL Draft: If Johnny Football fizzles out and the Browns retain their slot on the top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, then they have to pull the trigger on a quarterback.
As I stated above, the Titans already have Mariota, and if Manning wants to make his mark in Cleveland, he would want to do it with HIS guy.
And that guy would be Cal quarterback Jared Goff. Anyone who is even remotely mentioned in the same sentence as alum and Super Bowl champion and two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers is worth looking at, and Goff fits that to a T.
Cleveland needs a franchise signal-caller to contend in the AFC North, and hasn’t had one since coming back into the league in 1999. while Memphis’ Paxton Lynch and Michigan State’s Connor Cook—a former standout at Walsh Jesuit, and a native of Hinckley Township—are sure to command attention, Goff if the best in terms of accuracy, pocket awareness and mobility.
One way or another, the current Cleveland front office and player personnel will both be drastically different by the 2016-17 season, the question is will Manning be the man in charge?
What do you think?