Manning's availability alters Titans' plans for offseason and beyond

Monday, March 12, 2012 at 2:53pm

Days before the final game of the 2011 regular season, Matt Hasselbeck was not particularly concerned with his status as the Tennessee Titans’ starting quarterback.

“I know they set out a plan in their minds when they started the year,” he said at the time. “It’s probably gone pretty close to how they imagined it, is my guess.”

Plans change.

Not that long ago, it seemed unimaginable that Peyton Manning, the NFL’s only four-time most valuable player, would play for any team other than the Indianapolis Colts, let alone the Titans.

Monday, days after the Colts released him, multiple reports from national media outlets said that Manning would meet with Tennessee coach Mike Munchak and other staff members, most likely on Wednesday. That development came a day after owner K.S. “Bud” Adams publicly stated his desire to add Manning.

It represented a sharp philosophical change for the organization and threatened to change the course of its free agent activities when the signing period begins Tuesday afternoon.

General manager Ruston Webster said numerous times in previous weeks that the Titans were happy with their quarterback depth and felt other areas of the roster needed attention in free agency and the draft. Later reports Monday indicated that the Titans planned to pursue free agent defensive end Mario Williams, the first overall pick by Houston in the 2006 draft, but instead were now focused on Manning.

There was no official word from Webster on Wednesday. A team spokesperson said, “The owner speaks for the team.”

The Titans will be the fourth team to meet with Manning, who visited both Denver and Arizona over the weekend and then met with Miami representatives, reportedly in Indianapolis, on Monday.

Their plan was for Hasselbeck and Locker to battle for the job as a starter throughout the offseason. Hasselbeck started every game last season, and Locker played significantly in three games when Hasselbeck had injury issues.

If the Titans can add Manning, that obviously will not be the case. Hasselbeck almost certainly will be released or traded and it will become Manning’s responsibility to help develop Locker.

Munchak was instrumental in Hasselbeck’s decision to sign with Tennessee last summer. The head coach spelled out the organization’s plans in a manner that put Hasselbeck at ease.

Now he will make his case to Manning in what could be a seminal moment of his tenure, however long it lasts.

It is likely no one planned for this to be the case.

Staff addition: The Titans confirmed Monday that Dennis Polian has been hired as an assistant to Munchak. Polian, the son of former Indianapolis president Bill Polian, was the Colts director of football administration before he was fired last week.

According to a report, Polian was fired, at least in part, because of his interest in a position with the Titans.

The position as Munchak’s assistant is largely administrative.

9 Comments on this post:

By: NewYorker1 on 3/12/12 at 1:15

Peyton Manning is so stupid if he returns to football. Why put your health as risk for some dumb sport that has absolutely no value in it what-so-ever. Football is one of the stupidest things in existence. Manning needs to go sit down somewhere. It's time to give it up Boo. Your career is over.

By: bobcnote on 3/12/12 at 2:28

No offense, but Waht is Boo? I read folks saying that all the time and have no idea what it means

By: JeffF on 3/12/12 at 2:30

NewYorker there are many people that would say the same thing about men wearing stacked heel, designer dress boots. Just saying.

By: Rasputin72 on 3/12/12 at 4:02

NewHYorker1......It would not surprise if Peyton Manning loves football. It would not surprise me if the money he made in week 52 of 2011 was more than you have made in a lifetime. That does not mean much unless one likes money of course.

By: jwk6179 on 3/13/12 at 7:37

I have a question for a lot of the Titan fans (and you know who you are) that absolutly DESPISE Peyton Manning and often refer to him as Miss Manning. If he were to sign with the Titans, how are you going to pull and support him and the Titans after YEARS of DESPISING HIM and calling him every derogatory name in the book?

By: NewYorker1 on 3/13/12 at 8:13

Rasputin72, I'm sure he does make more money due to the dumbing down of America. Sports over education. At any rate, what good will his money be when he's paralyzed and can't enjoy it. I think he's dumb as hell to get back in the game. What an idiot.

By: tn.native on 3/13/12 at 9:49

Another possible change of direction for a team that fought hard to establish their new identity and I doubt it would amount to very much. Manning is aging and that is just a fact. His injuries were/are apparently significant enough to be released by the Colts. It would delay the maturing of Locker, who has showed a lot of promise,
and end up being an overall distraction for the Titans. Peyton has played the game very well but it is Eli that is the rising quarterback right now. Munch has brought a new sense of teamwork into the stadium and Peyton would rock that
boat trying to get ready to start in the fall. Too expensive, too risky, and probably
a little more divisive to weigh on the Titans which have showed promise with a good first year under new management. And for how long...two years, perhaps three at the most??? With Peyton there would be a lot of $$ going to the defensive line and it's the offense that could use some help.

By: Parry on 3/13/12 at 1:14

If there is one person that is not only aware of the viability of Manning as a short term QB and the need to protect him, and has the ability through the organization to test the injuries and the viability it is Mike Munchak.
Munchak has spent a lifetime either playing or coaching the role of QB protection. This fact alone, should be comforting to Manning. Manning is no fool and has a reputation of deep analysis of any situation. I am certain he knows his current position and is aware that any contract will be littered with ifs and such.
The prognosis of two or three years is likely pretty close to the mark. Consider what Manning has done in a similar time frame. Understand that if he grooms Locker, only Locker and the Titans can gain from it.
Here's hoping that on Wednesday, Munchak and Manning meet with a full understanding of what each can bring to the other, then they call the lawyers, and make Manning a reasonable offer he can't refuse.

By: d4deli on 3/13/12 at 4:40

There has been a signicant voice among the people to bring "home" Peyton. They were among those who wanted to see our UT star quarter stay here with the newly formed Titans. As much as I would like to imagine Peyton as quarter for the Titans, I have 3 major concerns: His health, the cost, and the team direction. Munchak has steered a new course for the Titans. He is clearly in charge with his direction in mind. He wasn't planning on the owner pulling out another "I Want" card. The previous "I Want" did not pan out, and this one.....well, let's just say that Manning should think about coaching, because when he plays, he calls many of the shots. His previous coach worked with that because Manning was right most of the time. I don't think Munchak would appreciate someone else running the plays.