Peyton Manning hit the open market Wednesday afternoon and, by Wednesday evening, business was booming.
Whatever the level of intrigue, 12 of the NFL’s 32 teams have reached out to Manning’s people, ESPN reports, and those include Arizona, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, the New York Jets, Seattle, and Washington. (Basically, the only team that can be written off entirely at this point would seem to be the team Manning just left, the Indianapolis Colts, but never count Jim Irsay out.) The early front-runners, according to CBS’s Mike Freeman, appear to be Miami, Washington and Denver, with Manning open to an NFC team despite the presence of his brother, Eli, with the New York Giants.
Peyton’s name had barely hit the waiver wire Wednesday when Miami’s Dwyane Wade and LeBron James turned up the Heat.
After his emotional press conference at Colts headquarters Wednesday, Manning headed back to south Florida, where he has a home and has been working out with Reggie Wayne, a favorite Colts wide receiver and possibly part of a package deal with Manning.
“I have no idea who wants me, what team wants me,” he told reporters at a Miami airport. “I literally have not had one conversation with anybody about these teams. I haven’t thought about teams.”
Shucks, he said he isn’t even certain how the process works, which seems a tad unlikely, because he has spent his 14-year career with the Colts. “I probably need to ask someone what these next few steps are,” said Manning. “I don’t know how this process work. I don’t know if it’s like college recruiting, where you take visits. I mean, this is all so new to me…. I don’t feel that I have anything to prove. Nobody loves playing quarterback more than I do and I still want to play.”
Before jumping into a minivan (a minivan?), Manning stressed that there’s no reason to read anything into his presence in Miami. He has a home there and Wayne is a natural workout partner as Manning rehabs from multiple neck surgeries and shakes off the rust from missing the 2011 season. “I literally have not had one conversation” with any teams yet, Manning said.
Of course, as he tools around town, he’s likely to see a Manning-to-Miami billboard and that might carry some weight. So, too, might the numbers he’ll no doubt be crunching. Already others are helpfully doing that in an effort to find a good home for Peyton. (The odds, by Bill Barnwell’s ciphering, favor the Redskins...breathe deeply.) Maybe he should think seriously about playing outdoors. His winning percentage outdoors is .649, Rich Cimini of ESPN New York writes, but it drops each month. Elias Sports Bureau says it’s .700 in September, .680 in October, .655 in November and .565 in December/January, when he is 13-10, including 0-3 in January.
It’s all pretty head-spinning. Perhaps Manning should take a break. Maybe go to a basketball game in Miami. That can be a welcome diversion...
“I’m just saying, Dolphins need a quarterback, and Peyton’s available,” James said. “I gave my pitch, my one and only pitch. We’ll see what happens.” He doesn’t know Manning but “I’m a Heat player and I want Miami sports to be great: The U, the Dolphins, the Marlins, the Heat, of course.
“Peyton Manning is a great player. No matter what happened this past year, his resume speaks for itself and it would be great to have him down here.”
I'm just gonna put it out thr..peyton that number 18 wld look gr8 in a dolphins uniform..steve ross let's go.. marlins & heat style..All in— Dwyane Wade (@DwyaneWade) March 7, 2012
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