Peyton Manning Watch: Miami Dolphins Out, Arizona Cardinals Still Alive

Luke Bunger@LukeHBCardsCorrespondent IIIMarch 15, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 27:  Head coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals talks with quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts  after the Colts defeated the Cardinals 31-10 during the game at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With all the talk coming out of Tennessee about Peyton Manning's future, it's understandable that fans of the Denver Broncos, and especially the Arizona Cardinals, would be forgiven for believing that their chances of landing the No. 18 had dried up.

Not so fast. Manning is not a Titan yet, and according to Chris Mortensen, at least three teams remain in the mix for Manning's services (per Craig Morgan).

The Cardinals, Broncos and Titans were all mentioned by name as landing spots during the report, however, previous front runners—the Miami Dolphins—were notably absent.

The absence of the Dolphins from this list is not entirely surprising. Earlier in the day, Adam Schefter confirmed that the 'Fins have scheduled a visit with their "Plan B" QB, Matt Flynn, seemingly signalling their exit from the "Manning Sweepstakes".

At the time, Schefter labeled their chances of landing Manning as "dwindling". Mortensen's sources—which have been amongst the most reliable during this saga—seem to have confirmed this fact.

Most interesting however, is the continued inclusion of the Arizona Cardinals on the list. Most analysts have in the last day narrowed Manning's choices to two, the Broncos and Titans, but Mortensen remains convinced in his belief that the deal with any team is far from finalized.

The Cardinals front office have been relatively quiet on the topic of Manning's future, especially when compared to the gong show which has been taking place in Tennessee, which lead many to believe Arizona they were out of the running.

However, this is always the way in which the Cardinals play such negotiations. A similar radio silence was instituted last season regarding Kevin Kolb, with the team refusing to comment on any speculation—which was rife—until announcing the blockbuster trade which brought him to the team.

The Cardinals' bid was considered very plausible immediately following his meeting with the team. Everything which was in their favor then—Larry Fitzgerald, a familiarity with Ken Whisenhunt, recent history with veteran QBs, great weather and a domed stadium—remains in play for the Cardinals.

Their biggest issues remain their cap concerns, but insiders believe that the Cardinals could quickly and easily cut players, or renegotiate contracts to make more than enough space for Manning, so the Cardinals, it would seem, still have a pretty good chance of landing the star.

Indications suggest that Manning still intends to make the final decision relatively quickly, but quick, as with all of these things, is a very relative concept.

Cardinals fans will have an answer one way or another before 1pm local time on Friday, when the team must notify the league if they intend to release Kevin Kolb. However, until either Manning signs a deal, informs the media himself that the Cardinals are out of the race or this deadline passes, the Cardinals remain very much in play.

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