Peyton Manning’s decision to eliminate the Miami Dolphins from his list of suitors has the net effect of complicating — if not confounding — any plans the Seahawks have of inking Green Bay free agent Matt Flynn.
And with surprising word Friday that the 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh worked out Manning this week in North Carolina, it opens the possibility that the Seahawks will have interest in Alex Smith, whom the 49ers have insisted all along was the quarterback they planned to re-sign in free agency.
The delay in signing Smith by the 49ers, according to ESPN.com, may have something to do with the fact that Smith and Manning are represented by the same agent, Tom Condon, who was going to tend to Manning before Smith.
The 49ers are considered longshots behind Denver and Tennessee, but if Harbaugh prevails, Smith, who led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and the NFC championship game, might prove a tempting target for the Seahawks. As Ray Ratto, columnist at Comcastsportsnet in San Francisco, tweeted regarding the Smith-Harbaugh relationship, “Smith wasn’t necessarily Mr. Right; he was Mr. Right Now.”
Arizona, where Manning took a visit early in the week, dropped out of Manningmania, according to coach Ken Whisenhunt.
CBS sports.com reported Friday that Flynn “wants to sign” with Miami, whose head coach, Joe Philbin, was Flynn’s quarterbacks coach in Green Bay. CBS Sports also suggested that the apparent hangup is that the Dolphins are trying to take advantage of the Flynn-Philbin relationship by “low-balling” Flynn.
The Denver Post reported Friday that the Broncos are preparing s $90 million, five-year deal for Manning. Officials including John Elway flew to North Carolina Friday to work out Manning and presumably make the offer.
The Seahawks, who hosted Flynn Thursday, have not only been mum about the Louisiana State product who dazzled NFL watchers with a 480-yard, six TD extravaganza last January, they have made no splash at all in this free-agency signing period, except with respect to their own free agents.
The Seahawks have agreed to bring back six holdovers, including RB Marshawn Lynch, DE Red Bryant (their top two priorities), OLs Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini, and special teams standout Heath Farwell. Although the Seahawks have made no announcement, fullback Michael Robinson wrote on his Twitter account that he, too, will return.
Heading into free agency, most assumed the Seahawks would target a pass rusher (they ranked just 19th in sacks last year with 33) or a quarterback or both. But after four days of free agency, it does not appear the Seahawks are much interested in any high-profile acquisition.
Or, the free agents aren’t interested in the Seahawks. It appeared that a reunion of Steve Hutchinson and the Seahawks was in the works Wednesday after he made a much-publicized visit to the team’s Renton headquarters. But a day later, Hutchinson signed with Tennessee which, according to reports, has the inside track on Manning, who played hard-to-get Friday by working out for Denver.
Head coach Pete Carroll seemed to confirm this Thursday, telling reporters “there won’t be a lot of changes on this team this year,” and “we like our roster, really.”
Based on the manner in which the Seahawks finished the 2011 season, winning five of their final eight to end 7-9, there is a lot to like about the roster. But there could be much more to love if the Seahawks had a big-time quarterback and a stud pass rusher.
If the first four days of free agency is any indication, the Seahawks plan to address those issues in the April 26 NFL draft.