Dolphins better off without Manning?

Now that the Miami Dolphins are officially out of the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, it's time to look ahead to their future.

Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post makes a compelling case that Manning turning down the Dolphins is actually best for the franchise. Fortenbaugh contends that Miami will be able to build the team for the long term over the next few years.

"And while the Dolphins -- like any organization looking to take the next step -- could certainly have benefited from a healthy Manning's skill set and expertise, this is a team that would be better served by acquiring a younger signal caller whom new head coach Joe Philbin could develop and the front office could build around.

Manning turns 36 on March 24. In the 46 Super Bowls that have been played, only eight of the 92 quarterbacks who have started under center did so at the age of 36 or older. More specifically, the last ten Super Bowls have only seen two quarterbacks start the game at the age of 36 or older (Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner) and both of those guys came up short."

I see Fortenbaugh's point, and this is certainly the direction Miami is going. But I disagree with the idea that winning later is better than winning now.

Manning would've been the best option because Miami would have been an instant contender. Any other option, such as Matt Flynn, Matt Moore or Ryan Tannehill, isn't enough for Miami to supplant the New England Patriots in the AFC East anytime soon.

In fact, the Dolphins are probably looking at a two-year rebuilding process under rookie head coach Philbin. That is not what owner Stephen Ross, who has deep pockets, envisioned. But it's the reality.

It's too early to make predictions. But I think a case can be made that the Buffalo Bills, with Mario Williams, and the veteran-laden New York Jets may be in better position to win now in 2011. We will know about where Miami stands after the draft and free agency.