The Miami Dolphins and about a dozen other NFL teams have or will be making their best sales pitches to free agent quarterback Peyton Manning.
Here's a look at what South Florida and Dolphins owner Steve Ross and General Manager Jeff Ireland have to offer the future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Miami has the salary cap space and the financial resources to keep Manning as one of the NFL's highest paid quarterbacks - and without gutting the rest of the team (unlike the New York Jets). Also, Florida has no state income tax and is in a large enough market that Manning's endorsement opportunities could actually grow.
Manning and his wife are fond of South Florida, which explains why they have a South Beach condo and have moved here this off-season. Once you've tasted the deliciousness that is South Florida life, it's hard to leave the tropics. Also, one would think someone coming off multiple neck surgeries would prefer to live and work in a warm climate.
In new head coach Joe Philbin, the Dolphins have the architect of a Top 5 offense for the past few years in Green Bay. Put him with offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, a seasoned former head coach, and the framework for a dynamic offense is here. Miami will install an offense that would allow Manning to craft plays he likes.
Of all the teams pursuing Manning, the Dolphins possess one of the best defenses.
Miami finished sixth in points allowed (19.6) and third against the run last season - despite a horrible start in 2011. Cameron Wake, Randy Starks, Paul Soliai and Yeremiah Bell all have been to the Pro Bowl. Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett each turned in 100-tackle seasons last year. The defense also features youngsters Vontae Davis, Sean Smith and Jared Odrick who haven't peaked yet.
Reggie Bush is considered one of the NFL's best pass-catching tailbacks and he's coming off his first 1,000-yard rushing season. The potential to do more is there for Bush. The Dolphins also have a big, physical back in Daniel Thomas, a 2011 second-round pick, who possesses plenty of upside and showed it early last season.
Brandon Marshall is coming off his fourth Pro Bowl campaign, one where he showed he still has elite talent by catching 1,214 yards and six touchdowns. His blend of size, speed and athleticism puts him among a handful of receivers who demands safety help on every play.
Davone Bess is among the best slot receivers in the game. And Brian Hartline, who delivered some of Miami's biggest catches last season, isn't chopped liver. He has comparable skills to Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez, also a former Buckeye.
The offensive line lead the NFL in sacks (52) per passing play last season, but finished the year without four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long, who should be recovered from his biceps injury.
The Dolphins must rebuild the right side of the offensive line, but Vernon Carey, who is represented by the same agency as Manning, can be re-signed and put back at right tackle. And Lydon Murtha has promise.
Sacks aren't always on the offensive line and adding a quarterback with better pocket presence will help. The most Manning has ever been sacked in a season is 29 in 2001. In his last full seasons as a starter (2010) he was sacked 16 times.
The Dolphins don't have any Dallas Clark's on the roster, but Anthony Fasano has been one of the NFL's better multi-purpose tight ends the past three years. Fasano was one of the NFL's top blocking tight ends in 2011, and he caught 32 passes for 451 yards with five touchdowns last season.
The Dolphins also have a blossoming H-back in Charles Clay, who caught 16 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns last season. Miami could easily add another seam threat through free agency (Seattle's John Carlson, Dallas' Martellus Bennett and Indianapolis' Jacob Tamme) or the draft.
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