Peyton Manning Rumors: Manning to Replace Tim Tebow in Denver? Dark Horse Candidates that Might Sign the Quarterback

Now that the Colts decided to release Peyton Manning, reports will be coming out every day about teams that might potentially sign the quarterback.

A few teams have been named as early favorites to land Manning. The Dolphins, Redskins, Jets, Chiefs and Cardinals have all been named as the most likely destinations for the free agent.

According to sportsbooks taking action on Manning's future, the quarterback has the best chance of playing in those cities in 2012.

However, there are a few other teams that could make a play for Manning that seem like longshots.

Here are some dark horse candidates that might sign Peyton Manning:

Denver Broncos

Many people find it hard to believe that the Broncos could bring in Manning after Tebowmania swept the nation for most of this past season.

Tebow led Denver to a 7-3 record after becoming the starter, but it wasn't always pretty. The quarterback completed just 46.5 percent of his passes, and burned out in the postseason against the Patriots.

He has never received the full support of Broncos executive vice president John Elway, who has found it difficult to commit to the quarterback publicly.

If Elway ever tried to replace Tebow, there would be an enormous backlash from Broncos fans. Perhaps bringing in one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time would lessen the blow.

Houston Texans

The Texans were a good quarterback away from making a deep run in the playoffs this past season.

After Matt Schaub got hurt, Houston wasn't the same team offensively. Their defense was so good that they almost beat the Ravens in a road playoff game, despite starting T.J. Yates at quarterback.

If the Texans are interested, you'd have to think they'd be near the top of Manning's list. They probably have the most complete team of any possible suitor. Houston would also give Manning the opportunity to play in a dome, like he's done his whole career with Indianapolis.

Schaub was playing well until he got hurt, but he only has one year left on his contract. He's only played two full years as a starter, and there's a chance the Texans could go with the proven veteran over their current quarterback.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers were an overtime victory away from making it back to the Super Bowl for the first time in 17 years.

Although he had his best season in 2011, Alex Smith looked like his old self in the NFC Championship game, completing just 12 passes for 196 yards.

Smith has the backing of Jim Harbaugh, but would the coach and San Francisco turn down a chance to sign a healthy Peyton Manning?

The 49ers had the best defense in football last season, and Manning could be the final piece of the puzzle to help them win a title.

Smith has just one year left on his deal. He proved to be a good game manager last year, but didn't make many big plays throughout the year.

If Manning joins the 49ers and is productive, he could make them the most dangerous team in the league.

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