NFL

Peyton Manning Was ‘Pretty Close’ to Signing With the Tennessee Titans in 2012

Longtime Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning spent much of his career dominating the Tennessee Titans.

Manning, who will soon be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, won 14 of his 19 career matchups with the Titans/Oilers franchise. He completed 70% of his passes for 4,956 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions across his time with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos.

The Titans nearly found themselves in an “if you can’t beat them, join them” scenario. Manning once admitted he was “pretty close” to signing with the Titans in 2012 instead of the Denver Broncos.

Peyton Manning is among the greatest quarterbacks ever

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The conversation regarding Peyton Manning’s place in the Hall of Fame should be a simple four words: “He’s in. Who’s next?”

Manning retired among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and he will likely hold that place for centuries. The No. 1 overall pick in 1998 completed 65.3% of his passes for 71,940 yards, 539 touchdowns, and 251 interceptions in 17 seasons.

Manning made 14 Pro Bowls and earned first-team All-Pro honors seven times. The veteran gunslinger and five-time MVP winner won two Super Bowls and threw 40 touchdowns in the playoffs.

Manning was ‘pretty close’ to signing with the Titans in 2012

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One of the most durable quarterbacks in NFL history, Peyton Manning never missed a game from 1998-2010.

Then came a neck injury, though, that kept Manning out for the 2011 season. The Indianapolis Colts parted ways with Manning in the spring of 2012 and drafted his successor, Andrew Luck, with the No. 1 overall pick a few weeks later.

Manning quickly signed with the Denver Broncos, where he quickly regained his old form and had a mostly-successful four years. He set single-season NFL records in passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) in 2013, culminating in his fifth MVP Award.

Manning nearly chose a different team in 2012, though. In a 2016 interview with The Tennessean, Manning — who played at UT — said he was “pretty close” to signing with the Tennessee Titans.

Tennessee had Jake Locker, their first-round pick in 2011, and Matt Hasselbeck as active quarterbacks. 

What if Peyton Manning signed with the Titans?

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In our attempt at a fun exercise, let’s try to guess how Peyton Manning signing with the Tennessee Titans would have impacted NFL history.

  • Manning wouldn’t have had the same weapons he opened his Broncos career with, that much is for sure. Although All-Pro running back Chris Johnson was still in his prime; the Titans lacked proven targets in the passing game.
  • Manning may have needed longer for the Titans to breakthrough. It seems unlikely that his 55-touchdown campaign in 2013 would have happened, but the young duo of Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright may have proved us wrong.
  • Denver may have made a push for Matt Flynn or Jason Campbell in free agency. Tim Tebow likely wasn’t the guy going forward. The Broncos drafted Brock Osweiler in the regular 2012 draft, for what that is worth.
  • Would the Titans have traded Jake Locker, the first-round pick in 2011? If so, Seattle could have made a run at Locker, who played collegiately at Washington.
  • In a world where Seattle picked up Locker, the Seahawks may not have needed Russell Wilson. Philadelphia drafted Nick Foles at pick No. 88, 13 spots after Seattle selected Wilson. How would Wilson have fared in an Eagles uniform and Foles in the Oakland Raiders’ black and silver?

The what-if scenarios here are endless and fascinating. It seems safe to say, though, that Manning made the right choice signing with Denver in the 2012 offseason. 

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