What a day on the Peyton Manning front. A day that started with reports that any visits Manning was going to make were finished and ended with a report that Manning actually spent 5-6 hours with Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in Indianapolis.
In between, reports surfaced that the Tennessee Titans were preparing to host Manning, with owner Bud Adams willing to do whatever it took to sign Manning, including a reported stake in the team. Also floated were the Houston Texans, though they were quick to come out a refute those reports.
So where do we stand? The national talking heads will tell you they think Manning could take up to a week to make a decision. Much of that comes from ESPN's Chris Mortensen. I don't think Mort is being dishonest with his reports, but I do think his sources are leading him a bit. Why? Mort is represented by CAA, that same Agency that Tom Condon works for. Condon is the agent for Peyton Manning. Mort's voice is far-reaching. So Condon can use Mort to angle the message any way he wants.
I personally feel this will get done in some way, shape or form tomorrow. Before free agency? Maybe not, but I think we'll hear the 'agreement in principle' line, or at least that Manning has picked his preferred team. I just don't think Peyton Manning is wired to let this thing drag on, even if his agent would love for him to do it.
So who's left? Right now, by my count, four teams remain in the hunt for Manning's services:
I still think the Broncos have the advantage. For one, John Elway is a hell of a salesman. He's also a hell of a businessman. I don't know of many times Elway has had someone in the room and was told no. On or off the football field.
There are a couple of angles being played out, too. One is weather. I took a look at the three home games the Broncos played in December and January this past season. The temperature? 50, 63 and 35. All three days were clear and dry as well.
While the Cardinals do play in a dome, that perceived advantage is usurped by a simply awful offensive line that was made worse today when the Cardinals cut Levi Brown, their starting Left Tackle. Not the sign of progress a guy like Peyton Manning is looking for.
What about Miami? While they obviously enjoy good weather, the NFL usually likes to send the Dolphins north for the winter. The 'Fins played at Buffalo and at New England this December with temperatures at 30 degrees in both games. Not really a weather advantage if you ask me.
I think the Dolphins are a bit too close to home for Manning as well. I mean, why would Manning and Philbin head to Indianapolis to meet when they are an hour away from each other is South Florida. The media, that's why. They likely have Manning's condo staked out. Any meeting in Miami would be covered like flies on the doo-doo. That works against the Dolphins - if their wacky owner doesn't seal the deal on his own.
That leaves the Titans. Bud Adams will likely throw everything but his middle finger at Manning. Perhaps Manning's roots in the Volunteer State are reason to make a pitstop with head coach Mike Munchak, but I can't see the Titans as a viable option. Maybe if Jeff Fisher will still in town - he liked to wear Peyton Manning jerseys while coach of the Titans - but Manning is a creature of habit. He enjoyed defensive coaches like Tony Dungy that allowed him to run the offense how he saw fit.
John Fox is that type of coach. If any of the coaches still vying for Manning could be compared to Dungy it would be Fox - a laid-back players coach. Between Fox and Elway, it is a tough duo to turn down.
So there you have it. The news of the day with some of my personal spice mixed in. This is a hot topic around Broncos Country, and for good reason. Let's get ready to enjoy the rest of what Free Agency has to offer as the Broncos look to make that next step towards a return to NFL Dominance!