Peyton Manning's future affects Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- Peyton Manning will be released today by Indianapolis and the Cowboys will be paying attention. Or at least they should be.

No, not to think about signing the future Hall of Fame quarterback, but to see where he ends up playing in 2012.

That could have a direct impact on the Cowboys.

According to multiple reports, Miami, Washington, Seattle and Arizona could be the top suitors for Manning, who did not play in 2011 because of a neck injury. His future is still unknown to a large degree.

The Cowboys would be better served if Manning stayed in the AFC.

The Redskins desperately need a quarterback and have the cap room necessary to land Manning. Washington has some decent pieces in place, but Mike Shanahan’s return to the sidelines as not gone well largely because he has not had a quarterback.

A healthy Manning would give Shanahan a quarterback and force the Cowboys to prepare for him two times a year. Now, Shanahan would have to alter his offense some to fit Manning – forget those bootlegs and waggles – and live with the idea that Manning would be the de facto offensive coordinator.

There’s a lot of ego involved there, and would the Mannings – Peyton and Eli – want to deal with the stress NFC East faceoffs twice a year? The Manning Bowls would be mean huge television numbers.

Why should the Cowboys care about Seattle? The Seahawks are on the Cowboys’ schedule this year. That Seattle defense is going to be good. They have committed to high picks on the line. They just re-signed running back Marshawn Lynch. And, according to reports, they would be interested in signing one of Manning’s favorite receivers, Reggie Wayne, as a package deal with Manning.

Like the Redskins, the Seahawks don’t have a quarterback either and a healthy Manning would make Pete Carroll happy.

Why should the Cowboys care about Arizona? Arizona gave Kevin Kolb a sizeable contract last year but the Cardinals have questions about him after injuries largely ruined his first year. Add a healthy Manning to the mix with Larry Fitzgerald and a defense that was better last year and it’s not difficult to see a Kurt Warner-like turnaround in the desert.

If you believe in San Francisco’s turnaround in 2011, then the Cardinals would figure to be a wild-card contender at worse with Manning, and that would affect the Cowboys.

Manning is 2-2 all-time against the Cowboys, winning in 1999 and 2002 and losing in 2006 and ’10. The 2006 loss ended Indianapolis’ run at a perfect season and came in the midst of Romo-mania when Tony Romo took over the starting job. The ’10 loss was to Jon Kitna in overtime, 38-35, in what was Sean Lee’s breakout game.

In those four games, Manning has completed 107 of 159 passes for 1,184 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions, four of which came in 2010.