Peyton Manning Came 'Fairly Close' to Joining Redskins in 2012: Mike Shanahan

Chris Lingebach
June 24, 2020 - 11:11 am
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The time to re-litigate the RG3 era has long since past, but this new offering from former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is simply too irresistible to pass up.

Let's set the timeframe for this journey back into 2012, in which The Athletic covers Peyton Manning's journey through free agency, which ultimately led him to Denver where he'd win a Super Bowl. Manning, then 35 and recovering from neck surgery that left his future so questionable it provoked the Colts into moving on from him, was released on March 7.

Five days later on March 12, Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder pressed send on a trade that would net the Rams two future first-round picks and an additional second, allowing Washington to move up four spots in the draft to select Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III second overall.

It's those days in between when Manning, then a four-time NFL MVP, would choose where he'd resurrect his career.

"While I was in Denver, I had a little lull there before I left," Manning tells The Athletic. "I went over to Mike Shanahan's house and visited with Mike and Kyle Shanahan, and we sat in their den and watched film. Kyle went over their offense. I was really impressed with Kyle."

"We were very much interested in Peyton at that time," Mike Shanahan says. "I mean, I followed his career. I know him quite well, so I feel like we had an excellent chance to get him. But knowing that Eli was in the NFC East, it surely wasn't a slam dunk."

Cut to the end scene.

"I had known Mike for a long time, played for him in a Pro Bowl, and we've stayed in touch, and so I felt comfortable talking to them," says Manning. "But they had made a trade for the second pick of the draft, which they ended up taking Robert Griffin III. So as soon as they made that trade, even Mike kind of knew that eliminated them. It just wasn't going to make sense. Kind of like the Colts, they were obviously going to go with a quarterback in the first round."

If Redskins fans aren't emotionally depleted enough already, here comes the real gut punch, delivered courtesy of Broncos GM John Elway by way of the elder Shanahan.

"I think Peyton was disappointed. Kyle and I were kind of surprised that he still wanted to meet with us," Shanahan says. "I can remember talking with Elway one time not too long ago, a few years ago. He said, 'Mike, do you realize that Peyton, I think, was going to go to your place? I think he really wanted to go to your place more than our place.'

"I said, 'Really? I didn't know that.' And that came from John. I knew we were fairly close."

Oh, what could have been. At least the entire Mike Shanahan era didn't blow up in a gaseous fireball that pitted a Super Bowl-winning head coach against a first-round flameout for years to come.

It's fine. It's all fine.

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