ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that the Rams have had internal discussions about bringing Manning to Los Angeles in 2016. Because Manning is under contract with the Broncos and obviously still has a game to play, the Rams can't and won't publicly comment on any potential interest.
Before we dive too far into this topic, it must be noted that the Rams are discussing any and all potential quarterbacks who could make them better. It'd be silly and neglectful if they weren't, after they finished last in the league in most major passing categories in 2015. So let's keep in mind that Manning is far from the only name they're talking about among quarterbacks and, really, every position.
As for why they'd be discussing Manning, who will turn 40 in March, there's no doubt he would give the Rams plenty of sizzle as they move back to Los Angeles. He has the star power to sell plenty of tickets and jerseys, and he has a long-standing relationship with coach Jeff Fisher. He'd also be an excellent tutor for any quarterback apprentices the Rams would have to back him up.
But that's about where the upside would end. Such a move just doesn't make a lot of sense.
The Rams currently have quarterbacks Case Keenum, Nick Foles and Sean Mannion occupying the three spots on the depth chart. For the vast majority of his career, Manning would have been the ultimate upgrade to a group like that. But that Manning isn't this Manning.
In 2015 he played 10 regular-season games and threw for 2,249 yards, nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions for a passer rating of 67.9. Foles started 11 games and threw for 2,052 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a passer rating of 69.0. Keep in mind those numbers got Foles benched in favor of Keenum, who performed the best of all three with a passer rating of 87.7 in six starts.
Even if you subscribe to the idea that Manning would be a marketing boon for the Rams, it's not as though they are having trouble moving tickets. They've already boasted about the 50,000 or so deposits they've taken for season tickets (with each deposit allowed to buy up to eight tickets). What the Rams need at quarterback is a short- and long-term solution that can help them win and thus sustain those ticket sales for years to come.
That solution would ideally come in the form of one person, but it's hard to see who could be added this offseason to fulfill that need.
This is also a two-way street. Even if whatever internal conversations the Rams had turned serious, there's not many good reasons for Manning to want to sign with them.
Manning has a great chance to ride into the sunset on a Super Bowl appearance or potentially a Super Bowl win. If he decided to hang on for another go, he'd be going to a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since 2004 or had a winning record since 2003. He has proved capable of riding a ship led by a dominant defense to this year's Super Bowl -- but he didn't have to do it in the NFC West. And, for as talented as the Rams are on defense, they aren't the Broncos, who had the league's top-ranked defense in 2015.
Beyond that, the Rams have a young offensive line that still has plenty of developmental work to do and a receiver corps with no top options like Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders. Manning also isn't mobile, something Fisher said he wanted when he switched from Foles to Keenum. On Wednesday, Manning told reporters at the Super Bowl that he's going to need hip replacement surgery at some point. He's also dealt with serious neck and foot issues in recent years. That doesn't sound like a guy who needs to be dodging defenders for the Rams.
Through the years, we've seen plenty of all-time greats keep playing even after their primes. It's a right to which they're entitled. Heck, the Rams have even played a prominent role in such a scenario, employing Joe Namath for a final season in 1977.
But if Manning wants to keep playing, it'd be best for both he and the Rams if he does it somewhere else.