The Washington Redskins were in the early stages Thursday of making their pitch to free agent quarterback Peyton Manning, amid some indications that Manning’s deliberations about a new team could move quickly toward resolution next week.
Several people familiar with the situation said the Redskins remain determined to make a strong effort to sign Manning, the four-time NFL most valuable player who was released Wednesday by the Indianapolis Colts. The Redskins had initiated contact with Manning’s representatives, those people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions.
Manning and his representatives appear hopeful of picking a new team by the time the NFL’s free agent market opens Tuesday, people familiar with the situation said.
That would enable Manning to negotiate a contract before quarterback-needy clubs have other options available to them in free agency. Manning’s last contract was structured to give him that advantage if he were released by the Colts, according to people familiar with the arrangement.
By releasing Manning, who missed all of last season after undergoing a series of neck surgeries, the Colts avoided paying him a $28 million bonus that he would have collected if he’d been on the Indianapolis roster Thursday. Manning, as a released player, is free to sign with a team immediately.
ESPN reported that Manning would like to make a decision within a week and prefers to remain in the AFC but has not ruled out playing for an NFC team.
It is not clear whether Manning, who has a home in Florida and traveled there after Wednesday’s news conference in Indianapolis, will visit interested teams in coming days. One person familiar with Manning’s situation said it is possible he might instead hold a workout where multiple teams could watch him throw.
The Redskins appear willing to absorb the risk associated with signing Manning, who turns 36 this month as he rehabilitates from the neck surgeries. But it’s not clear how much additional medical testing or football evaluation they and other teams would require before offering Manning a contract. Orthopedic surgeon Robert Watkins has pronounced Manning’s neck sufficiently healed for the quarterback to resume his NFL career. But Manning, who must regain strength in his shoulder and right arm, acknowledged Wednesday he had more work to do before he is ready to play.
The Redskins also have been considering a trade with the St. Louis Rams to obtain the second overall selection in the NFL draft. The Redskins, who have the sixth overall pick, would use the second choice on Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner.
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