Peyton Manning: Miami Dolphin? Jimmy Johnson says it almost happened

“Miami” Manning? It almost happened, acording to Jimmy Johnson.

The NFL is filled with “What If?” stories befitting of a Marvel Comics TV show, with endless alternate realities to ponder: What if Drew Bledsoe never got hurt? What if Kevin Dyson was a little bit taller? What if Dez actually caught it?

The latest what-if storyline comes courtesy of newly enshrined Hall of Fame head coach Jimmy Johnson: Johnson, who coached the Dolphins between 1996 and 1999, revealed that, in 1998, Peyton Manning was thiiiiis close to being the heir apparent to Dan Marino — at a fairly hefty price.

“It would have taken my entire draft board, but I could have made a trade to move up to get Peyton Manning,” Johnson said on “The Dan Le Batard Show.” “In fact, I talked to Peyton and Archie about it this weekend. …

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“That’s all the details I can give you. I probably gave you too much already.” 

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The Dolphins made 10 picks in the 1998 draft, and would stick at pick No. 29 and select running back John Avery, who would only last two seasons in a Dolphins uniform before being traded to Denver.

With Marino entering the end stages of his career in 1998, the Dolphins have been searching for a true franchise passer since his retirement in 2000. Miami hopes that Tua Tagovailoa is that guy in 2021 and beyond.

Manning, the heralded QB prospect coming out of Tennessee, is the subject of multiple what-if situations. Famously, the Hall of Famer decided to stay at Tennessee following his junior season in 1997, spurning the Jets, who had the No. 1 overall pick.

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New York selected wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, with Manning landing with the Colts as the No. 1 overall pick the following year.

Well, that certainly worked out well for everyone.