INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning's professional future likely does not hinge on the identity of his dinner partners.
Still, if Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald is indeed planning on grabbing a bite with the potential free-agent quarterback, Cardinals fans can feel a little better about their team's chances for landing Manning should he become available.
Fitzgerald has friendships with players throughout the league. He also has, at times, hinted that the Cardinals needed to make certain moves to improve their roster. A year ago, the Cardinals were reportedly consulting Fitzgerald on their choice of quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers this on Manning: "The Cardinals likely will be among many teams to express interest should the Colts release Manning some time in the next month or so. But I would think any team interested in paying huge amounts of money to acquire Manning would want to put him through a rigorous throwing session."
Also from Somers: Fitzgerald denies any plans to have dinner with Manning.
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says a Fitzgerald-Manning meeting is on the schedule. Bickley also quotes Kurt Warner as saying the Cardinals let too many good players get away following their Super Bowl run. Warner: "Any time a team starts to do that, losing pieces they say are replaceable ... you don't replace great players. They don't come around a dime a dozen. You have to hold on to them. If you can't hold on to all of them, you have to make a committed effort to hold on to some of them and build around them. They still have Larry (Fitzgerald), of course, but you need more than that to win in this business. And that's the biggest lesson the Cardinals, and any team, can learn. It's very difficult to replace guys who are integral to a team's success."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Cardinals players for thoughts on the Super Bowl. Daryn Colledge, formerly of the Packers: "You think about what it was it was like going through media day and training for that extra week and spending the week. You remember what it was like going through it with your guys. I have positive thoughts about it all because I won. It’s probably different than guys who did not win."
Also from Urban: thoughts on Larry Fitzgerald, Peyton Manning and other subjects. Urban: "Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, who has covered the Colts for years, reported mid-day that Fitz and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning were expected to have dinner, which obviously caught everyone’s eye. Fitzgerald and Manning are friends — Fitz seems to be friends with pretty much every high-profile player there is — and so it could mean nothing about the future. But it’s hard to believe, with everything happening, the subject wouldn’t come up."
Mathew Hathaway of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the proposal for Edward Jones Dome upgrades delivered to the Rams by the local stadium authority. Hathaway: "The Rams have until March 1 to accept or reject the CVC proposal, and until May 1 to make a counteroffer. The two sides would go into arbitration if a deal isn't struck by June 15. Without an agreement, the Rams would be free to relocate after March 1, 2015." Noted: Accepting the offer seems highly unlikely. We should expect the sides to go back and forth over the coming months.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers various Rams notes, including one from former Tennessee running back Eddie George about the nature of Jeff Fisher's offense. George: "Sure, a lot of what we did was based on the power running game, but Steve McNair didn't get to three Pro Bowls or win the league MVP award just by handing the ball off. We did a lot of damage with our passing game. He (Fisher) likes to take shots down the field."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Falcons' Les Snead interviewed with the Rams for their general manager's job.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com breaks down the 49ers' defensive line, noting that just about every player at the position performed at a high level. Maiocco on Isaac Sopoaga: "Sopoaga did an excellent job of clogging the middle and keeping offensive linemen from getting to the second level to block inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. The 49ers ranked third in the NFL, allowing just 3.2 yards a carry, on run plays up the middle. That is a direct reflection on Sopoaga's ability to hold the point and stand his ground against the power run game."
Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com offers thoughts on the 49ers' and Raiders' stadium situations. Ratto says the 49ers could not count on the Raiders to hold up their end in a joint-usage agreement. Ratto: "So it makes perfect sense that the 49ers are going their own way on a stadium, and that the NFL acknowledged this by freeing up the $200M in loans to help make that happen. Nobody knows what the Raiders are or what they want to be, and waiting around for them to discover that has proven far too expensive for all parties concerned."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News provides details on the 49ers' new ownership situation. Kawakami: "Yu and Boston Celtics LP Mark Wan were coming on as separate 1 percent investors in the 49ers. I think both are officially co-owners now. According to an NFL source, Yu and Wan purchased the 1 percent shares for $8.5M apiece, putting a value of $850M on the 49ers franchise–interestingly, the same total as the stadium financing project. I also believe that Yu has an option to buy up to 5 percent over a period of time."
Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News provides details of the 49ers' stadium funding and the reaction from Santa Clara. Mintz: "With the stadium project steamrolling forward, Santa Clara officials did move this week to remove the only potential roadblock, filing a lawsuit to keep stadium opponents from trying to put the project back on the ballot."
Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says Seahawks receiver Mike Williams plans to cut weight for the 2012 season. Williams: "I've got to get better, I've got to get faster, I've got to get more explosive. I won't be playing at 240 this year. I'm going to go down and go a lot lower than that just to give myself the best chance."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says there's a decent chance the Seahawks and other teams with top running backs will use the franchise tag to keep them. He says DeAngelo Williams' five-year, $43 million contract could complicate negotiations. The franchise tag could cost about $7.7 million on a one-year basis.