Landing spot for Manning?

March 8th, 2012 at 9:11 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

He’s replaced Brett Favre as ESPN’s favorite subject–at least for now.

And the TV camera crews in South Florida have outdone themselves tracking down Peyton Manning from the air and the ground.

All that anyone really cares about, is where the 4-time NFL MVP goes next to play quarterback.

It’s been widely reported that a dozen NFL teams have inquired about Manning since the Indianapolis Colts released him Wednesday at noon.  And later Wednesday, when Manning flew to South Florida to stay at his Miami beach condo, the Dolphins immediately became the fashionable pick to land the gifted passer.

But Manning really hasn’t said much at all about his free agency plans.  He’s in the drivers’ seat, to be sure–the ultimate free agent.  He may be the most sought after free agent in NFL history, when it’s all said and done. And that’s pretty remarkable, given that Manning did not play a down in the 2011 season, and has had multiple surgical procedures on his neck in the last few years.

Manning is likely to have several options.  But he may not have a lot of time to make his decision.  With free agency opening up next Tuesday, and roster bonuses coming due on several other NFL players, it’s expected Peyton’s place in the NFL will be decided in the next 5-6 days.

NFL sources tell us the 14-year veteran is headed west in the next few days to talk to a couple of teams.  We’re told Manning has a meeting scheduled with the Denver Broncos tomorrow, and a weekend session with the Arizona Cardinals on the agenda.  It’s expected both teams will want to give Manning a thorough physical and watch him throw, so they can gauge for themselves whether he’ll be fully rehabilitated and able to throw a football effectively when training camp opens.

I’m sticking with my prediction from Wednesday–I think Manning will wind up with the Cardinals.  They’re ready to pay him, obviously.  But what they really offer Manning is Larry Fitzgerald, the most talented WR in the game right now.  They have an offensive-minded coach, Ken Whisenhunt, who won’t let his ego get in the way of Peyton’s preference for autonomy when it comes to play selection.   They have a capable defense and they play in a division that should allow them to compete right away.

I’m thinking Peyton may like what he sees in the Valley of the Sun this weekend, and he may not leave without a contract.

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