Tennessee blows it up after Manning elects to retire and begins the rebuild by drafting Carson Wentz with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Signing with the Titans would’ve been a trip back home for Manning, who was a star at the University of Tennessee. It also could be the team he works for if he elects to turn to a front office job in his retirement years. But the team wasn’t nearly as poised to win a Super Bowl as the Broncos were when he hit free agency four years ago.
The Titans weren’t terrible with Locker, Matt Hasselbeck and Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, so Manning certainly would’ve improved the team. But it took some elite defense in Denver to finally get the Broncos to the mountaintop and the Titans don’t have a Von Miller to build around. Signing Manning likely would’ve made the Titans a contender, but it’s hard to imagine it would’ve ended with a Super Bowl ring.
Meanwhile, the Steelers just keep chugging along because they’re the Steelers. That’s what they do.
In the end, the Bills’ drafting Antonio Brown doesn’t really change much for either Buffalo or Pittsburgh — but it works out well for New England and Washington. There are a ton of moving parts at play here, but not even three years of catching passes from the likes of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm would have stopped Brown from becoming one of the league’s most devastating weapons.
He is the man I want. Period, Adams told The Tennessean in 2012. And the people that work for me understand that. They know who I want. I want Mr. Manning with the Titans and I will be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
It didn’t happen and the Titans instead turned to Jake Locker to start after he spent his rookie season learning from the bench. But Locker, the No. 8 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, never lived up to the hype and Tennessee instead won 15 games over the next three years before taking Marcus Mariota in the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Broncos already had Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the roster in 2012, but the Titans’ top targets were Nate Washington, Kendall Wright and Kenny Britt. Manning gets the best out of them, but a 9-7 season isn’t enough to get to the playoffs thanks to a bad defense. The Houston Texans earn the AFC South title instead.
On another hand, the leagues already have core measures in place to protect against match-fixing.
Most of them are already in business with companies that use algorithms to check offshore and underground sportsbooks (where possible) for suspicious bet patterns. Sports leagues could have an easier time snuffing out cheating when more betting happens in the open.