Peyton Manning hadn't nixed Cards

Updated: September 9, 2012, 5:59 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Peyton Manning never told the Arizona Cardinals they were eliminated during his two-week free agent run. Arizona eliminated itself when they chose to pay Kevin Kolb a $7 million roster bonus due March 16.

Manning wasn't prepared to make a decision then, but sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that the Cardinals likely would have contended with the Denver Broncos, the team he chose three days later.

While Manning will debut for the Broncos against the Steelers on Sunday night, the Cardinals will start John Skelton, a fifth-round draft pick who took the unlikely route from El Paso to Fordham to the NFL, in their Week 1 opener against Seattle.

Skelton and Kolb had waged a protracted competition for the job over offseason workouts and through the preseason.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.