Could Peyton Manning be looking to return to Tennessee as a coach?

Since Manning has yet to make a professional commitment following his retirement from the NFL, the rumor mill keeps linking him to a coaching gig with the Volunteers. Mike Freeman, lead NFL writer at Bleacher Report, wrote Wednesday about the Manning-UT chatter:

I keep hearing that Peyton Manning wants to coach his alma mater. Over and over, I hear it from NFL people I trust. I don’t know if it’s accurate. It seems too neat and tidy to be true.

One thing is certain: Manning doesn’t seem to be in too big a hurry to be a television analyst. Maybe he’s not in a hurry to do anything except Netflix and chill. And if he’s not going to join an NFL front office (which doesn’t seem on the horizon) or a network (which also doesn’t seem imminent), then what is Manning’s plan?

He’s not the type of dude who sits and relaxes. At least not for long.

When Butch Jones recently stopped in Memphis on the Big Orange Caravan speaking tour, he addressed Manning’s current relationship with Tennessee and the possibility of having him on staff according to 247Sports:

“We talk all the time,” Jones said of Manning, “and I think anything Peyton Manning does, he’ll be successful. But coaching is a completely different animal than playing, as any great player would tell you.

“But, again, I welcome him any time he wants to come in to Tennessee and spend time with our players. He’s been great that way. He’s been very willing to do that. We’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have him be a part of our teams, coming in and speaking to (them), and this year will be the same.”

It’s a delicate situation for Jones. He has to address the possibility of one of the most celebrated players in Volunteers history joining the coaching staff when there’s no vacancy in on-field positions with said staff. The NCAA allows nine on-field assistants, and Tennessee currently employs nine assistants.

Every SEC team has off-the-field administrators, film analysts and support staff, but it’s almost impossible to imagine Manning doing anything other than coaching quarterbacks on the field.

As Jones said, coaching is a “different animal,” but it’s not a completely unfamiliar role for Manning. The Miami Herald reported that Manning recently spent some time working with Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill.

Until Manning announces his post-retirement plans, we’re guessing these coaching rumors are here to stay.