Flynn snubs Dolphins for Seahawks
By Bill Lankhof, QMI Agency
|Quarterback Matt Flynn throws a touchdown pass against the New England Patriots in the first half of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts December 19, 2010. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)
The Miami Dolphins lost a sure-thing Sunday, watching Matt Flynn fly off with the Seahawks.
It left them without Plan A - Peyton Manning, and now, Plan B.
Meantime, a funny thing could happen to the San Francisco 49ers on their way to signing Manning.
They could end up just as empty-handed as the Dolphins. No Manning. Without incumbent Alex Smith. Without a franchise quarterback. Without even an experienced No. 1 quarterback.
The Manning Meandering is causing a lot of aggravation, to a lot of teams and a lot of other quarterbacks.
The Dolphins had the inside track on signing Flynn with his former offensive coordinator, Joe Philbin, now the head coach in Miami. But they spent so much time entertaining Manning that the Seahawks snuck in the back door. The 26-year-old Flynn was the hottest free agent before Manning went on the market and he got a three-year deal worth $26 million with $10-million guaranteed.
Meantime, while Manning dilly-dallies between the Titans, the 49ers and the Broncos, Smith has evidently wearied of being a spectator to his own future. The 49ers always figured Smith was their fall-back option, much like the Dolphins figured they could get Flynn any time they crooked a finger at him.
But evidently Flynn decided friendship with Philbin only went so far — perhaps about as far as Smith’s supposedly-blossoming kinship with Jim Harbaugh.
On Sunday Smith spent five hours talking to the Dolphins. He is reported to be upset with the 49ers prolonged, and clandestine, courtship of Manning after indicating they were committed to him.
There is growing sentiment that Smith might not now return, even if the 49ers don’t sign Manning.
That would leave the 49ers with only second-round draft pick Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. Of course, they could always sign David Garrard. He’s 34, and looking. Or, if Manning goes to Tennessee, perhaps the then-displaced Matt Hasselbeck.
The Manning situation also is causing ripples of discontent in Denver. Tebowmaniacs are dismayed and Tim Tebow can’t be too happy either as vice-president of operations, John Elway, pursues Manning — and some reports suggest other free agent QBs — after grudgingly saying Tebow deserved to be the Broncos’ starter coming into training camp.
Tebow’s relationship with Elway is becoming as strained as Smith’s has been throughout his seven-year career with the 49ers.
Tebow was a big reason Denver went from 1-4 to the playoffs, and a big reason they won their first playoff game.
Smith helped the 49ers to the NFC championship game.
It seems that at best management has been unappreciative, and at worst duplicitous, in their dealings with both men. “This is the NFL. I guess nothing surprises me anymore,” Smith told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. ”I never thought a year ago Manning would be a free agent either. I’m never surprised by anything.”
Smith might not be surprised. But the Dolphins are oh-for-two; the 49ers may be looking at strike three and Elway is sitting on a public relations powder-keg. All due to the Manning Factor. That’s at least a bit curious. In anyone’s league.
If you can’t beat ’em; sign ’em.
So it is that the 49ers have signed former Giants receiver Mario Manningham to a two-year free agent deal.
Manningham helped beat San Francisco in the NFC championship, after a season in which he had 39 receptions and 523 yards; not shabby considering he was playing behind Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. In San Francisco he joins a receiving corps that includes Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree. “It’s going down. Mario Manningham signs with 49ers. This is a sick WR squad. It’s going to be crazy on the offensive side of the ball,” tweeted defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois.
While much of the talk has been about free agent windfalls, this off-season has not been kind to many veterans who have been released or asked to take pay cuts.
The Steelers served up another ultimatum, this time to nose tackle Casey Hampton.
He has reduced his salary from $4.89 million to $2.8 million and surrendered a $1-million workout bonus, to stay with the club.
Pittsburgh has cut, or renegotiated deals, with many veterans including Hines Ward, James Farrior, Chris Kemoeatu, Aaron Smith, Ben Wallace and Ben Roethlisberger.
Meantime, in New England, the signing of Brandon Lloyd likely means Chad Ochocinco is done. Speculation in the Boston media is that he’s willing to take a pay cut from his $3 million salary. But he caught only 15 passes last season. He’s 34. His chances don’t look promising.
Patriots’ free agent Mark Anderson, the best pass rusher along with Kamerion Wimbley still on the market, is drawing interest from Miami, Tennessee and the Jaguars ... The Bengals resigned defensive back Reggie Nelson ... The Broncos resigned their third-leading tackler, linebacker Joe Mays .... ESPN reports Matt Leinart, cut by the Texans, is being targeted by the Raiders to back up Carson Palmer ... The Rams, trying to beef up their 31st-ranked run defence, signed former Dolphins defensive end Kendall Langford ... With the 49ers signing Moss and Manningham, and the Patriots landing Lloyd, the market for restricted free agent Ben Wallace has shrunk. Finally, perhaps, some good news for the Steelers. But, not so good for Ben’s bankroll.