Peyton Manning Rumors: His Top 3 Destinations
It looked for sure that the Washington Redskins would be huge players in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. But Friday night they decided to trade up for the second pick in order to draft Robert Griffin III. Perhaps they came to the realization that Peyton would not want to battle younger brother Eli twice a season.
The Jets were also thought to be in the mix. But Friday night they gave Mark Sanchez a three-year, $40.5 million extension through 2016, eliminating them from the equation.
So a couple days into the Manning free agency, a couple of teams are no longer in contention to sign him.
While some teams disappear, others emerge as surprising contenders. The most surprising, the Denver Broncos, met with Manning Friday night.
Who are the top three teams still in contention for landing Manning's services? We will start with the likeliest.
No. 1 Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals are a no-brainer for Manning. They have everything they need to sign him.
With Manning, Arizona could be a Super Bowl team next season.
Peyton has played eight games a season indoors his entire career. He will have the perfect opportunity to enjoy warm weather for his home games if he signs in Arizona. Not to mention, his divisional road games would not be in the worst weather climates either.
The pieces are in place already for the Cardinals.
The running game is established and Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best receivers in football. A Manning-Fitzgerald connection would be simply lethal.
Another plus would be staying out of Eli or Tom Brady's divisions.
For Arizona, they do not owe Kevin Kolb a bonus until March 17, giving them plenty of time to make a deal with Manning.
Manning is believed to want to stay in the AFC.
No. 2 Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins have been rumored to be interested in Manning since the Colts looked like they would be a helpless team last season.
Here is their chance to turn their franchise around.
The weather is perfect in Miami and Manning would love to play in those conditions.
Much like Arizona, the Dolphins have an above-average wide receiver in Brandon Marshall and a capable running back in place to make the team a contender quickly.
He will be able to stay in the AFC. However, it would be the AFC East, meaning facing the New England Patriots.
Manning will face Tom Brady at least twice a season. I do not see Manning ending his career knowing that he will have two matchups with Brady every season.
No. 3 Denver Broncos
Is Tebow Time over in Denver?
The Broncos certainly have made strides with Manning after spending six hours with him on Friday night.
The meeting included a tour of the facility and an escort by John Elway, the Broncos vice-president of football operations.
Although it is not the most obvious choice for Manning, perhaps Elway was able to convince him that Denver is the place where he should continue his career.
Manning would remain in the AFC yet stay out of the East.
The weather is certainly not as cozy as the other two destinations.
Although Elway is doing his best to get Manning, he might be part of the reason that Manning would object to joining the Broncos.
The constant comparison to Elway's playing days might be too much of an annoyance for Manning. Not to mention, one bad start and he might start hearing "We want Tebow" chants at Mile High.
If Manning and Arizona can come to a deal that both sides can live with, then there is no reason why he will not be a Cardinal next season.
There are a couple other teams in the running that are not significant players, such as the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks, many people's sleeper pick.
When all the dust settles, Manning will be trying to do his best Kurt Warner impression in the desert and attempt to take the Cardinals to another Super Bowl.