As Peyton Manning continues his free-agency tour, a few teams have been bounced out of the tournament, whether of their own volition or not. Manning apparently had a very positive and productive visit with the Denver Broncos, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, and then, he wound his way down to Arizona, where he met with Cardinals officials, head coach Ken Whisenhunt and receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Manning is now out of Arizona, having returned to his Florida home. There's no indication whether he will meet with the Miami Dolphins, who are rumored to be ready to put on the full-court press, but Klis says in a very interesting report that Manning intends to make his decision by Tuesday -- that's the starting day of the new league year and the point where teams can officially negotiate with non-released free agents.
Klis wrote that Manning didn't bring agent Tom Condon along on either visit, and that neither the Broncos nor the Cardinals have made official offers. Manning apparently chose to make these visits more informal so that he could get a better sense of what each team was really like without the potentially adversarial aspect of money talk mucking things up. Manning was apparently very impressed with the Broncos organization after speaking with everyone in the front office, and the Cardinals countered Denver's more informal approach with more of a "red-carpet treatment."
[Related: Report: If Broncos sign Manning, Tebow could be gone ]
What Klis reported, after speaking to someone, is that the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs are out of the running. Both teams contacted Manning and requested that he come to their facilities, but were rebuffed -- at least according to Klis. However, Eric Williams of the Tacoma News-Tribune reported on Sunday night that the door is still open for the Seahawks, and that Manning did not specifically refuse to visit the team's facilities. And an NFL source told Shutdown Corner on Sunday night that the Chiefs are still in the hunt as well.
As Marvin Gaye once sang, "Believe half of what you see, son, and none of what you hear."
Anyway ... Klis also reports that the much-ballyhooed "surprise teams" in the run for Manning might be two: The Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers. Titans owner Bud Adams recently went public with his preference that Manning come back to Tennessee (where he went to college), and there appears to be a school of thought that if the 49ers can't come to terms with free-agent quarterback Alex Smith, they might post a late bid of interest.
This is all speculation at this point, but one thing's for sure -- the Manning derby is about to get even more interesting and intense. Stay tuned!
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