INDIANAPOLIS — On a day when Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was reportedly back in South Florida, enjoying the weather and his South Beach condo, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland was in the city that boasts Manning as its most famous resident. And though he never mentioned Manning, Ireland — who’s in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine — said Thursday he would be receptive to signing a short-term solution at quarterback.
Manning, who turns 36 in March, certainly would qualify as that. Manning, expected to be a Dolphins target in free agency if he’s deemed healthy, has spent time in Miami this week, throwing passes to Colts free agent Reggie Wayne.
“I don’t think it has to be a long-term solution,” Ireland said of his plan at quarterback. “I think you can look at a short-term solution. Obviously, you’d like a long-term solution. Or you can try to get both. You’ve got to try to help this team win today and look to the future.”
Ireland said he and coach Joe Philbin have talked about quarterbacks “almost on a daily basis, especially the past couple of days. It’s an ongoing process. A lot of things have to be figured out.”
Manning will become a free agent if the Colts, as widely expected, decide not to pay him a $28 million bonus due March 8. Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said Thursday that he has not seen Manning throw and the team hasn’t made a decision.
“We’re in continuous talks,” he said. “We’re waiting for things to happen.”
What has to happen?
“He needs to get healthy,” Grigson said. “â?¦ There is a medical concern there.”
If the Dolphins cannot land Manning, Green Bay’s Matt Flynn looms as an appealing option. But that could be more difficult if the Packers use their franchise tag on him — possible now that Green Bay has re-signed Jermichael Finley.
Would Ireland be willing to trade for a quarterback?
“We’ll use every avenue available to try to get the best player available for every position,” he said, not about Flynn specifically.
With Flynn, the body of work is limited. “If you don’t have a lot of film (on players), you keep watching it over and over again,” Ireland said. Philbin, who coached Flynn in Green Bay, declined to discuss him Thursday.
Ireland and Philbin will be side-by-side the next five days, interviewing players and watching workouts.
“I haven’t spent as much time with Joe as I’d like, but a lot of time with the coordinators, getting to know what they’re looking for,” Ireland said.
More thoughts from Ireland and Philbin:
Ireland: “I’ve introduced myself to 100 people since I’ve been here, and everyone keeps saying how good a guy (Philbin) is. I was kidding with him, ‘I hope he can coach.’ “
On fans purchasing a Manning-to-Miami billboard in South Florida, Ireland said: “They can do what they want.”
Ireland said: “We’re trying to build a defense to stop the offenses in our division most of all. ... I’d like to have three or four more (pass rushers) if you can find them. They’re hard to find.”
Ireland said the draft has “a strong first round. Offensive line is pretty good.” A Dolphins/Carolina coin flip at 7 a.m. Friday will determine which team picks eighth and which is ninth.
Ireland called Matt Moore this week “just to say hello” and told reporters “he fits here. He needs to clean up his footwork and clean up his reads. That’s what the staff is going to do. He’s going to be a big part of our team.”
The Dolphins have $15 million in cap space, but Ireland refused to say if they will restructure contracts to create more. “It seems like you never have enough money,” he said. Of the team’s free agents, such as Kendall Langford, Paul Soliai and Vernon Carey, Ireland said, “We have a plan for that. We’re going to start that process this week.”
Ireland said “there are certain positions you look at differently” with Philbin on board. For example, the Dolphins will place more of a premium on quickness and athleticism with offensive linemen.
“The receiver and running back may be a little different than what we’ve looked at in the past,” Ireland said. “I’m listening to the head coach to find the right type of player to be the most productive in his offense.”
In general, “We’re not looking for small players. I’m not changing that too much,” Ireland said. “I like big, strong, fast guys.”
The offense “is going to be a collaborative effort,” according to Philbin, who noted offensive coordinator Mike Sherman’s “offense at Texas A&M was extremely productive.”
Philbin, on Ireland: “You put your head down at night saying, ‘Jesus, this guy is prepared.’ “
Philbin said last year’s tight ends “performed well” and his receivers are “a good group. They’re productive players. They all have a little different skill set. It’s good to have guys who can do different things.” Of Reggie Bush, Philbin said, “You want the football in his hands.”
Philbin has briefly met with several players, including Jake Long and Brandon Marshall: “The thing I’m impressed with most is the character, desire. They seem willing to sacrifice to (achieve) team goals first.”
Rex Ryan’s views
Though Jets coach Rex Ryan said recently that Mark Sanchez “is my guy,” he refused to rule out pursuing Manning. Ryan said of his new offensive coordinator and former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano: “I never liked him. I couldn’t put my finger on why.” Then he realized why: “That guy thinks he’s as tough as I am. He might be tougher. I’ve always admired him.” Ryan also said “it was a huge mistake” to guarantee last February that the Jets would win the Super Bowl.
(c)2012 The Miami Herald
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