Thursday, March 8, 2012
Updated: March 9, 1:38 PM ET
Sources: Peyton Manning favors AFC
By Adam Schefter
Peyton Manning's camp is aiming to make a decision within the next week on where he will play next season, according to sources, who add that while Manning prefers to stay in the AFC, he is open to playing in the NFC.
Sources say 12 teams reached out to Manning's representatives Wednesday, after he was released, to gauge his interest in playing for their teams. Many of the teams already have been publicized, but some inevitably will want to keep their identity secret.
Of those 12 teams, sources tell ESPN that the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and New York Jets have actually been in contact with Manning's representatives.
Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino said Thursday he will not reach out to Manning about his options in free agency, noting that the four-time NFL MVP has enough people "working with him to help him make the right decisions."
But if Manning asks, Marino says, "I would definitely answer."
"I think he fits with anybody," Marino said Thursday at a charity golf tournament. "He's one of the best to ever play the game at that position. So wherever he ends up playing, if he's healthy, which is going to be important to Peyton, I'm sure he wants to go out there and play at a high level. Wherever he plays, he'll be a huge impact for that team."
New Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, appearing at a Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida sports auction at Sun Life Stadium on Thursday, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that he had not spoken to Manning or Manning's representatives yet.
"I have not talked to him, not at all," Philbin told the Sun Sentinel. "We had a busy day in the office. We're evaluating draft prospects and putting our playbook together so I have not spoken to him."
Philbin said the Dolphins would look at "every option" to improve the team.
"Honest to God, I didn't pick up the paper today," Philbin told the Sun Sentinel. "I haven't been on ESPN.com. I've really been busy with other things, and that's the truth. ... He's obviously had a phenomenal career up to this point in time," Philbin added. "From all indications he's been a great leader in the locker room. He's had a great career with the Colts, and we'll see how things develop in the next week or so."
Justin Tuck said Thursday he expects Manning to make any team he signs with an instant NFL powerhouse. The New York Giants defensive end just hopes it's not a team in the NFC East.
Speaking with The Associated Press at Barcelona's Global Sports Forum on Thursday, Tuck says that he hopes Manning doesn't "come to the NFC East where I'll have to play him twice a year."
Tuck doesn't have to worry about Manning joining the Dallas Cowboys. A high-ranking team source told ESPN's Ed Werder on Thursday that the team remains committed to Tony Romo and will not pursue, contact or demonstrate any interest in Manning.
The Indianapolis Colts officially released Manning on Wednesday. He will become a free agent and eligible to negotiate and sign with a team as soon as he clears waivers Thursday. The 14-year veteran does not need to wait until the free-agent period begins Tuesday, and he acknowledged his agent already was taking calls.
"I have no idea who wants me, what team wants me, how this process works," Manning told a group of reporters in South Florida after flying to his home there following Wednesday's news conference. "I don't know if it's like college recruiting where you go take visits. I mean, this is all so new to me."
Manning missed the entire 2011 season after having his third neck surgery in 19 months, a fusion of two vertebrae. But Dr. Robert Watkins, who performed the single-level cervical fusion, has stated publicly that he has cleared Manning to resume his playing career, and the damaged nerves have regenerated to the point where Manning has thrown the ball with greater distance and velocity in the past few weeks.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.