The word on the street is the Kansas City Chiefs are out of the running for Peyton Manning. Then comes another rumor that the Chiefs could still be in it. While it’s more likely the Chiefs will not get Manning since there has been no official visit even scheduled and free agency starts tomorrow, the Chiefs still have reason to hope. But they should also plan for a different outcome — one that doesn’t include an elite-level quarterback rushing in to save the day.
Instead it’s more likely that the Chiefs will have to find some other less-exciting options to chose from. Perhaps you could use the word “realistic.” Despite the deflating morale, however, there are some solid bets on the free agent market.
1. David Garrard – The former Jags quarterback actually turned in a career best performance in his final year with the Jags before being cut for Blaine Gabbert. Health issues kept him out all of last season, but if he’s back and healthy, he’s among the best options out there — a surprise since no one is talking about him.
Pro Football Focus called him one of the best bargains around. Nathan Jahnke wrote, “Amenable to a backup role, it’s often forgotten just how solid a quarterback Garrard was for the Jaguars, even if he did fail to push them on. If his back heals fully after a season off, Garrard could prove a relatively cheap (talent wise) option at the QB spot that could provide competition for a struggling starter, or reliable backup for a team concerned with their quarterbacks health. On proven talent levels alone, Garrard trails only Manning in the passers available.”
2. Kyle Orton – This is the most common and the most likely since both player and team are already familiar with each other and succeeded quite well in the marriage given the drama, frenzy and short time span together. Orton helped the Chiefs defeat the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos within the team’s last three games and the Chiefs finished one game out of the playoffs despite firing Todd Haley.
Orton is also going to be hot for that same reason on the free agent market, so it won’t be surprising to see other teams wanting in on Orton — perhaps the Jags and Bears among others. But the Chiefs have the familiarity, the cap room and the interest to make this move.
Between the two, the Chiefs could find their next quarterback and provide the competition for Matt Cassel that they wanted. It’s not a Manning-sized move, but there are a number of teams that will be left out in the cold when all is said and done about Peyton. In the meantime, there is still hope.