Here's a look at some of the top rumors for Wednesday, Feb. 10:
No one knows for sure whether Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has played his last game in the NFL, but many assume that's the case. So what's his next rodeo? ESPN's Kevin Van Valkenburg explored that exact question this week -- with answers ranging from an NFL-related endeavor (coaching, front office, etc.) to a career in comedy -- while ESPN's Dan Graziano looked into his 2016 crystal ball to see Manning joining the Tennessee Titans' ownership group. Former Indianapolis Colts GM and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian doesn't know Manning's plans either, but he told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday that Manning "would be ready immediately" to be an NFL team's general manager. "He knew the strengths and weaknesses of every player on every defense in the AFC and many on offense, because he met them and got to know them at the Pro Bowl and soaked up information," Polian said of Manning, adding that the QB also discussed draft prospects with him while both were in Indianapolis. "All he would need would be a brief tutorial on the league rules and things like the general terms of trades and contract language." Polian's endorsement makes sense, especially considering the quarterback's famous attention to detail, but very few players have gone on to be successful executives, with John Elway and Ozzie Newsome being rare exceptions. Would Manning be interested in taking over a team's day-to-day football operations? Would he have the patience to acquire the pieces and let others assemble the puzzle? It's a fascinating possibility, and Polian clearly thinks Manning is capable. Here's hoping we get to see this play out someday.
Meanwhile, the quarterback who replaced Manning in Indianapolis, Andrew Luck, is due for a contract extension, and Colts owner Jim Irsay isn't trying to play it coy about the deal Luck will receive. "It's going to be a shocking number, nine figures and probably a [$20 million] starting point per year," Irsay told WISH-TV last week, per Kevin Bowen of the team's official website. The size of Luck's deal will indeed be "shocking," and Irsay's estimation of $20 million per year is almost certainly a little low, as the 26-year-old should wind up with the largest contract in NFL history. That could mean an annual average of $24-25 million and guarantees of $75 million. As Irsay also said, "it's just a matter of time," making it clear the team is prepared to hand out the long-awaited megadeal to its franchise QB.
In other Colts news, Zak Keefer of the Indy Star expects the team to keep veterans Frank Gore, Arthur Jones and Coby Fleener while saying goodbye to Andre Johnson, Trent Cole, Bjoern Werner and Dwayne Allen this offseason.
Gore and Jones have been disappointments as free-agent signings in recent years, but both could improve with a little luck, and the team wouldn't save much by releasing either thanks to large dead-money charges. Johnson and Cole, on the other hand, are both in serious decline and could bring a combined savings of more than $11 million against the cap if released. It seems Fleener will be chosen over Allen at the tight end position as a better fit for the offense. Meanwhile, Keefer thinks it might be time to cut ties with 2013 first-round bust Werner, which would take another $1.5 million off the Colts' cap. The number of disappointing acquisitions who could be leaving town shows just how erratic GM Ryan Grigson has been on the job. He'll have to find different ways to fill each of these holes this offseason while once again looking for help on the offensive line.
The Baltimore Ravens could be in for some serious turnover this offseason as well, with a few key free agents set to hit the market. The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec thinks it might be tough for the team to re-sign guard Kelechi Osemele and linebacker Courtney Upshaw, but he doesn't think kicker Justin Tucker will be going anywhere. Zrebiec writes that "the sense is [Osemele] could be priced out of Baltimore," which wouldn't be a surprise after the team invested heavily in guard Marshal Yanda in October. Upshaw probably won't draw as much interest as Osemele, but the Ravens have a history of letting front-seven players walk. Zrebiec thinks the team could opt to stick with Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and 2015 fourth-rounder Za'Darius Smith at the position, plus a later acquisition. As for Tucker, Zrebiec writes "there is little to no chance" the kicker will hit the open market, with the team likely to use the franchise tag if no deal can be reached. Also of note: It doesn't appear there will be room for wide receiver Chris Givens -- who the Ravens acquired from the Los Angeles Rams in October for a 2017 seventh-round pick -- to re-sign in Baltimore. It's not a huge surprise that he'd be allowed to walk after just a half season, especially considering how frequently the Ravens gain draft capital through compensatory picks.
As for the Minnesota Vikings, we've previously discussed some of their pending offseason decisions, but here's another one to keep an eye on: The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Matt Venseth writes "it will be surprising" if the team doesn't sign safety Harrison Smith -- who is entering the fifth-year option of his rookie deal -- to a contract extension before the start of the 2016 season. We looked at the market for safeties last week with regard to Kansas City Chiefs free agent Eric Berry, who will likely sign a new deal before Smith because his current contract is set to expire. The framework of Berry's deal will likely serve as a starting point in the Vikings' discussions with Smith, who is one of the brighter young defensive stars in football. Don't be surprised if Smith gets an extension that averages $10 million per year.