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Why Eli Manning to the Dolphins could make sense

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NFL: New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a lot of discussion around the internet lately that the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback situation is a mess, with no answers on the horizon. Of course, that is assuming that Ryan Tannehill’s knee injury keeps him from returning and resuming his role as an ascending quarterback in Adam Gase’s offense. But, let us ignore that right now and assume something sets back Tannehill. What does the team do then?

The straight forward answer is to draft a quarterback, either someone who challenges Tannehill for the starting role, or someone who can be developed behind Tannehill. What if the answer is something completely different?

What if the answer is a 37-year-old who would be going into his 15th season after being selected with the first overall pick by the San Diego Chargers?

On NFL Live on Wednesday, Adam Schefter projected Manning, who was benched by the New York Giants this week in favor of Geno Smith, as a possible free agent target for the Dolphins this offseason. Miami head coach Adam Gase served as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for Eli’s brother, Peyton Manning, with the Denver Broncos from 2012 to 2014.

Manning would make sense for the Dolphins, if Tannehill is not healthy, or if the team does not want to spend a draft pick on a quarterback this year, and would rather head into the 2018 season with an open competition between Tannehill and Manning. That, of course, would depend on the price tag needed to sign Manning, give Tannehill is scheduled to account for a $19.8 million salary cap hit next year. The Dolphins could work to lower that number, but it is hard to say the team needs to pay big money to sign Manning if they are going to keep Tannehill on his current contract as well.

And, this all assumes the Giants release Manning, who is under contract through 2019, but jumps to a $22.2 million cap number next year and a $23.2 million number in 2019.

Manning could give the Dolphins an emergency stopgap to fill in for Tannehill if the knee does not heal correctly. He could provide solid veteran depth if he is willing to play for that kind of money. And, he could challenge Tannehill if the team has both healthy before the start of next year.

If Manning were to become an option for Miami, he would clearly only be an option for the next couple of years. That could be the time the Dolphins need to sort out the “quarterback mess” they have right now, and possibly decide if they are ready to move forward with Tannehill for the next several seasons.