Tennessee Titans  

 

Titans worth watching in Peyton Manning sweepstakes

Mark Humphrey / Associated Press
Peyton Manning -- an all-American as a Volunteer -- is a legend in the state of Tennessee.

The first curveball in the big game for the services of Peyton Manning has been thrown. And it's an 89-year-old owner on the mound.

The Titans' Bud Adams told The Tennessean on Sunday that Manning "is the man I want. Period. And the people that work for me understand that. They know who I want. I want Mr. Manning with the Titans and I will be disappointed if it doesn't happen."

And on Monday, NFL Network's Michael Lombardi reported that the Titans are preparing to host the free-agent quarterback in the next day or two, according to league sources.

For the past few weeks, Titans sources have held firm that the club planned on moving forward with their current arrangement at quarterback, with veteran Matt Hasselbeck mentoring 2011 first-round pick Jake Locker. The club likes the relationship the two have built, and foresees a smooth transition from one to the other down the line.

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But the wild card was always Adams. The theory held that if Manning or his agent, Tom Condon, reached out directly to the owner that he would jump all over the opportunity to pursue the future Hall of Famer.

As it turns out, the conversation between Manning's camp and Adams happened, even if in a slightly different fashion than the process outlined above. Adams sensed a possible fit, and told The Tennessean that he was the one who reached out to Condon personally.

The potential match makes sense on several levels.

First, Manning is a legend in the state, having been named an All-American at the University of Tennessee. Adams is very aware of the marketing opportunities that Manning would open up in Nashville.

Second, Manning's wife, Ashley, is also a UT alum and happens to also be a Memphis native. While the football part of the equation is important, sources from several involved teams have said one factor that might be tough for teams in the West -- like Arizona, Denver or Seattle -- to overcome is convincing the quarterback to move his young family. That likely won't be a deal-breaker, but it could be a tiebreaker.

Third, the Titans have a head coach in Mike Munchak who is a former player and understands how to handle veterans. Then there is offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, who has a relationship with the Mannings dating back to when he was Eli Manning's position coach from 2007 to 2009 with the New York Giants.

Fourth, Tennessee has some $30 million in cap space to get Manning additional help on the roster.

Last, but not least, the Titans play in Manning's familiar environment in the AFC South.

Hasselbeck has a year left on his deal, and the Titans would likely try to continue to develop Locker behind Manning if it were to come to pass.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @albertbreer

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