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Meanwhile, the Ravens stayed out of it, content to watch the helicopter chases on cable along with everyone else – a nice moment of organizational discipline.
Let us count the reasons why Manning-to-Baltimore was either a bad idea or would never work:
They couldn't begin to afford him.
If they didn't even have enough salary cap maneuverability to bring back Ben Grubbs, how were they going to give a quarterback a $95 million contract? They're pretty good at managing the cap, but to bring in Manning, they would have had to cut a third of the team. It was never anything other than a completely unrealistic scenario.
They would have been starting over at quarterback by 2014.
Manning will be 36 next season. It's not clear whether he can still play effectively after a serious injury and surgery, and even if he can, he has just a little time left. The Ravens, meanwhile, are finally set under center with Flacco after nearly a decade of wandering with Stoney Case, Kyle Boller, etc. But they would have lost Flacco and returned to wandering after indulging in the Manning quick-fix.
Ignoring the frenzy and fostering continuity was absolutely the only call.
It was a frenzy.
Sorry, but $95 million for a guy who might still be able to play? I'm letting the others fall all over themselves.
They couldn't control Manning's decision.
This was the X factor so many front offices surprisingly ignored. Pro football teams are notoriously controlling, seeking to put their hands around as many situations as possible, but this was strictly Manning's call, and who knew what would help him decide?
The Ravens could have offered him the entire world plus one dollar, as Tennessee owner Bud Adams seemingly did, but maybe he didn't like crab cakes, or playing in the hard-hitting AFC North.
It was never going to happen, didn't need to happen and didn't happen, and that is fine.