Peyton Manning Rumors: Latest News and Speculation Around Top Quarterback

Adam LazarusSenior Analyst IMarch 12, 2012

Peyton Manning Rumors: Latest News and Speculation Around Top Quarterback

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    The biggest story in sports right now? Easily the Peyton Manning free agency drama.

    Every move the four-time MVP makes is being covered, scrutinized and dissected. 

    Slowly things are coming into shape, but until he signs on the line which is dotted, no one can be certain whose jersey he'll be wearing in September.

    Here is the latest (alleged) state of each of the contenders.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Status: Out of the running

    During the combine, Romeo Crennel essentially said that the Chiefs—who are paying Matt Cassel over $21 million for the next three seasons—were going to put their hat in the ring for Manning.

    But according to reports out there, including the Mike Kils of the Denver Post, Manning has taken them off his list and will not grant them a visit.

    It's not terrible news for the Chiefs...unless Manning winds up with their arch rival, the Denver Broncos. 

Seattle Seahawks

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    Status: Interested, but waiting

    The same report that declares Kansas City off Manning's radar says the same about Pete Carroll's Seattle Seahawks. 

    But according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, that's not entirely true. Eric Williams writes 

    Contrary to an earlier report by the Denver Post, a team source with knowledge of the situation confirmed that Peyton Manning has not declined an invitation to visit with the Seattle Seahawks...The Seahawks reportedly were one of the first teams to contact Manning’s representation when his name hit the waiver wire on Thursday, and remain interested in hosting Manning for a visit to the Pacific Northwest so they can show him all that the organization has to offer.

    Obviously the Seahawks have a tremendous need at the quarterback position. Even if they love Tarvaris Jackson, he's only signed through next year, and at $4 million, it wouldn't be inconceivable that he spends 2012 backing up Manning.

    But for now, they'll continue to wait by the phone.

New York Jets

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    Status: Out of the running....probably

    When news of Mark Sanchez's extension broke, many people scratched their heads: He seems to have taken a major step back last year, and there were even concerns about his leadership and work ethic in light of the Jets playoff-less season.

    But a closer look at the numbers of his new deal revealed the truth: The Jets aren't committed to him nearly as long as it appears. In short, they could still jettison him if they land Manning.

    So the NFL and national media's dream scenario—TWO Mannings in New York City—is still possible, it's probably not going to happen, especially since, according to the New York Times, "the Jets recently found out that Peyton Manning had no interest in joining their circus."

    It's unlikely that Manning would go from one disruptive, "unhealthy" situation like he faced in his final season in Indy to another one in New York. 

    Of course, never say never when it comes to the Jets. 

Washington Redskins

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    Status: Long-shot

    Just like the Jets, the Redskins recent front office move—trading three first-rounders and a second for the rights to grab Robert Griffin III—seemingly ends their candidacy for Manning.

    According to the Washington Post, the "Redskins have been rebuffed so far in their pursuit of free agent quarterback Peyton Manning, who scheduled a series of visits with other interested teams beginning with a trip Friday to Denver."

    Still, don't completely rule them out of the running: Is RG3 ready to play on Day One? They can't be certain and considering Manning's own issues with viability in September he might be an (albeit awesome) one-year bridge to the future.

    But, in a salary cap-less era, the Redskins probably could pull the deal off, and give Manning the money he wants with his red flags. But today—especially since a report came out today that the Skins had their cap reduced—not so much. 

Miami Dolphins

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    Status: Resurrected from the dead

    As early as Monday morning, it seemed that Manning was uninterested in taking his talents to South Beach: He would not give the franchise-in-transition an audience. But according to the Miami Herald, Manning has changed his stance. 

    He'll reportedly be meeting with Dolphins head coach Joe Phillbin sometime early this week:

    "Two Dolphins sources insisted Monday that they believe the Dolphins are still in the running for Manning, and the meeting with Philbin certainly would strongly suggest that."

    Since the Manning drama hit its postseason peak, Miami has long since been considered a favorite: They won't be brining Chad Henne back, and Matt Moore isn't making a ton of money.

    More to the point, the new ownership will want to make a splash, hoping that the Dolphins can once again be relevant.

    And even if Matt Flynn is a better long-term solution, and has a great relationship with Phillbin, Manning can do that, while Flynn can't. 

San Francisco 49ers

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    Status:The Faux Contender

    Much like Tim Tebow, Alex Smith is learning that no matter how much a young quarterback achieves, until you win a Super Bowl, a player like Peyton Manning, if available, will hang over your shoulder.

    And although there seemed to be no interest joining the Manning sweepstakes a few days ago, that might have changed. 

    According to the Denver Post, San Francisco has also opened up preliminary talks with Manning's agent Tom Condon

    The timing of this, however, does seem curious. Could this all be a smokescreen to keep Smith's contract demands (he's a free agent too) from getting out of control. The 49ers front office could play the "we could always sign Peyton Manning" card. 

Tennessee Titans

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    Status: Rank pulled

    The same reports that have the Dolphins resurrected in the race to interview Manning have Tennessee back in the hunt. But only under curious circumstances.

    The Titans front office didn't dispel the idea of Manning returning to his college stomping ground, but given the needs at other positions and the presence of a reliable veteran (Matt Hasselbeck) and a young, expensive rookie charged with winning the future (Jake Locker) suggested Manning wasn't the right fit.

    Owner Bud Adams threw a wrench in the plans. He told the world that he wanted Manning on the team: It sure would be a slap in the face to division rival Indianapolis. He told The Tennessean:

    "I want Manning...I'd love to see him in Titan blue after watching him so many years with the Colts. ... I want him. I am ready to do what it takes to get him aboard, and I think he'd be the guy to get us into the playoffs."

    Maybe it's just me, but I don't see Munchak being pushed around by anyone, even if it's his billionaire owner/boss.

    It's one thing to bring Manning in for an interview to say they covered all their bases, but another to discard Hasselbeck mid-contract and pause Locker's growth by making him the clipboard-holder. 

Denver Broncos

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    Status: Still a contender

    What once seemed like a long-shot is no longer.

    The fact that Manning has not been very liberal with whom he's granting an interview says a lot about Denver's interest.

    For all Tim Tebow achieved last year the Broncos—and especially a Hall of Fame quarterback who knows what it takes to win a Super Bowl—have to find Manning intriguing. If they can get to the second round of the playoffs with a quarterback that struggles to complete 50 percent of his passes, imagine what Peyton Manning can do, even in the twilight of his career.

    Manning probably recognizes that as well, and that must be one of the reasons he flew to Denver last week. That meeting reportedly went very. According to the Denver Post, Manning's agent Tom Condon is in VERY early talks regarding a contract. 

    Of course, Denver's not the only team to make it to second base....

Houston Texans

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    Status: The Wild Card

    Perhaps the most surprising new team to enter the party, the Houston Texans reportedly are showing interest in Manning.

    According to the Denver Post, the:

    "Texans recently inquired about Manning, according to a source. If they get seriously involved, the Texans might be considered the Broncos' biggest threat."

    Houston has a successful quarterback in place, Matt Schaub, but if they have a chance to land Manning, they might eat the final year of his contract or try to deal him away. 

    The Texans have a tremendous team in place and boast two fine running backs as well as one of the game's most respected wide receivers. No other team out there can make that claim.

    And don't forget this factor: Manning would absolutely love the opportunity to play the Colts (and his replacement Andrew Luck) twice a year. 

Arizona Cardinals

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    Status: The Favorite

    The Cardinals also met with Manning and also have opened up dialogue with his agent, Tom Condon.

    And while they are one of several teams in that boat, they might very well be considered the best landing spot.

    They have Larry Fitzgerald, one of the game's best wide receivers, a head coach who Manning has a relationship with and are in a very winnable division. And since the Super Bowl has to be Manning's top goal, the fact that Arizona is the only true contender with a Super Bowl berth in their recent history is appealing to the future Hall of Famer.