Connecting the dots became much easier Wednesday when the Arizona Cardinals announced Frank Reich's hiring to coach their wide receivers.
Reich coached quarterbacks and later wide receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in recent seasons, giving the Cardinals a direct link to Peyton Manning should Manning hit the market this offseason, as expected. Multiple reports have listed the Cardinals among teams likely to pursue the Colts' longtime quarterback.
The Cardinals had an opening for a quarterbacks coach, but they moved receivers coach John McNulty into that role, replacing Chris Miller, who was fired. Reich replaces McNulty.
Reich, a former NFL quarterback best known for leading Buffalo's historic playoff comeback against the Houston Oilers, made his NFL coaching debut as a Colts offensive assistant in 2008. He became their quarterbacks coach in 2009, then moved to coach receivers this past season.
The Cardinals previously prevented McNulty from interviewing to become offensive coordinator with Tampa Bay. Moving him to quarterbacks coach allowed them to address McNulty's contract, which likely resulted in a pay raise. Team president Michael Bidwill discussed that expected move during Super Bowl week. Bidwill also affirmed the team's intention to pay a $7 million bonus to incumbent quarterback Kevin Kolb, but his wording left open the possibility things could change. Bidwill cited rules against tampering in discussing Manning specifically.
On Kolb and the bonus, he said this: "You sort of cross bridges as you get there, you know, but I wouldn't say we are going to deviate from the plan at this stage."
Hiring Reich only strengthens perceptions the Cardinals will pursue Manning if given the chance. Lots of other teams will likely have interest as well. Whatever edge Reich might offer will belong to the Cardinals.