- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Television news helicopters followed Manning’s ride from a Denver-area airport to the Broncos facility, where Manning is meeting with team officials. It won’t be his last visit. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Manning will visit the Cardinals; Kansas City owner Clark Hunt has said the Chiefs have interest in Manning as well.
Expect Manning to make his decision within the next several days. The veteran quarterback will weigh several options before making his decision. Let's look at how the Broncos and the Chiefs stack up in several areas:
Denver: It has already been reported the Broncos are willing to spend whatever it takes to get Manning. Denver owner Pat Bowlen has seen Manning beat his team’s brains in for years. He’d happily pay to get Manning on his side.
Kansas City: The Chiefs are in great salary-cap shape. They can easily hang with any other team’s offer for Manning.
Supporting offensive cast
Denver: The Broncos have strong offensive linemen, a good running game and some solid receivers. There is room to get better and I’m sure the Broncos would promise Manning improvements, even allow him to make suggestions.
Kansas City: The Chiefs have a better supporting cast in the passing game than Denver. Manning would likely be thrilled to throw to receivers Dwayne Bowe, Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston and tight end Tony Moeaki. The Chiefs can run the ball, too. And Manning would reunite with former Colts teammate guard Ryan Lilja.
Denver: The Broncos have an improved defense and are expected to try to get better. If the six-game suspension of linebacker D.J. Williams holds up, however, it will weaken the group.
Kansas City: Romeo Crennel’s defense was fabulous at the end of last season and it has a chance to be a stellar group with a few additions. Manning would have to be impressed by this group.
Denver: Denver head coach John Fox loves veteran quarterbacks and is a noted players' coach. He and Manning would be a natural fit. Offensively, the Broncos showed last season that they are more than willing to adjust their system to their quarterback. Manning would like this group.
Kansas City: Crennel runs a New England-like ship. No opponent knows how important coaching was to New England’s success better than Manning. I think Crennel and his staff would work well with Manning.
Denver: The Broncos have something no other competitor for Manning has: a Hall of Fame quarterback running the show. John Elway would give Manning what he wanted, and he understands what it is like to be in Manning’s shoes as few others do.
Kansas City: The Chiefs don’t have a Hall of Famer running the show, but Hall of Famer Len Dawson is never too far off.
Room for friends
Denver: The Broncos could be open to signing several of Manning’s former Colts teammates, including center Jeff Saturday, receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark. That would appeal to Manning.
Kansas City: The Chiefs are pretty set at receiver and tight end. I could see them making room for Saturday, however.
Ability to win now
Denver: The Broncos went from being 4-12 in 2010 to going 8-8 and winning a playoff game in 2011. With Manning and a few more pieces, the Broncos would be a threat to make a deep playoff run.
Kansas City: The Chiefs went 7-9 in 2011 despite several injuries. Adding Manning could make the Chiefs a dark-horse Super Bowl choice.
Conclusion: Both teams have strong selling points to Manning and both have the means to get it done. It will come down to a comfort level for Manning, who will also consider other teams. But there’s no doubt that both the Broncos and Chiefs will be in this chase for the long haul.
5dEric D. Williams