Friday, March 9, 2012
On Cardinals still being in Manning picture
By Mike Sando
A few thoughts as Peyton Manning prepares to visit the Denver Broncos:
- Manning would serve as the perfect Tim Tebow exit strategy for a Broncos leadership that has been skeptical about the team's ability to win over time without better quarterback play from the pocket.
- A Denver Post report says Manning wants to make a decision by Tuesday, and that he also plans to visit the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins. Getting a deal done so quickly would limit the number of trips Manning could realistically make before signing. That timetable and list of teams suggests Manning has no plans to visit Seattle or other teams expressing interest.
- The Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams have to be rooting for Miami or Denver to prevail over Arizona if those are indeed the three favorites for Manning.
- ESPN's Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen say their sources are "adamant" that Manning's visit to Denver is only a visit, not a negotiating session, and that the timing does not identify Denver as the favorite to land Manning; they also indicate Manning is expected to visit Arizona.
- The Cardinals have made significant progress as an organization since 1993, when Joe Montana met with them before accepting a trade to Kansas City. Montana was never considered to be serious about the Cardinals back then, but with a new stadium and recent success with Kurt Warner, Arizona should have a much better shot at landing Manning.
- Missing out on Manning would not necessarily force Arizona to pay a $7 million bonus to Kevin Kolb by March 17, unless the Cardinals felt strongly about Kolb as a vastly superior option over John Skelton.
- The fact that Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has promised Skelton a chance to start raises at least some questions over the Cardinals' commitment to Kolb, although Whisenhunt has long been against anointing anyone.
- If the Cardinals are not sold on Kolb, they have extra incentive to land Manning.
- Having Manning land in Arizona would focus additional attention on the 49ers' understandable (but nonetheless debatable) decision to stick with Alex Smith, and on whatever decision the Seahawks wind up making at the position.
- The Rams want to keep Cleveland and Washington in play for the No. 2 overall pick, so they should be fine with Manning landing in Denver or Miami; Manning to Arizona wouldn't devalue the second overall pick, but it would make life in the NFC West tougher for St. Louis.
- Manning's health is still a big variable here, introducing risk for any team deciding to sign him.
Those hoping to escape the all-Manning news cycle could be in for a rough weekend.