The suitors for Peyton Manning can now start lining up.
Manning will become a free agent immediately following his expected release from the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday, almost a full week before the start of the NFL free-agency period. Several league executives of teams who have interest in Manning told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora Tuesday they will begin contacting the quarterback's agent, Tom Condon, immediately.
The speculation about which teams will pursue Manning has been gaining steam for weeks, and that interest will soon become tangible. League sources have told La Canfora that the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins will all pursue Manning.
NFL Network's Albert Breer reported Tuesday the Dolphins have had detailed talks about adding Manning among larger discussions about their quarterback position. Matt Moore, who replaced Chad Henne as the starter in Miami is slated to return, but Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is convinced his team is a quarterback away from Super Bowl contention, according to Breer.
Team sources have also told The New York Post the Jets "are definitely interested" in Manning, known to be a favorite of head coach Rex Ryan, to replace Mark Sanchez. According to the report, Manning's health would need to be determined before the team decides its level of commitment to the idea.
The Cardinals are also in the mix, as the Arizona Republic had reported Tuesday the team is expected to show interest and has not ruled out the idea. The Cardinals owe starting quarterback Kevin Kolb a $7 million bonus on March 17, meaning it's very likely any decision on Manning would come in the next 10 days. The team could decide to walk away from Kolb after paying him approximately $8 million last season.
One team that has downplayed the idea of pursuing Manning, at least publicly, is the Seahawks. Seattle general manager John Schneider told the team's website last month the organization won't panic at the quarterback position, where Tarvaris Jackson is the returning starter. Breer, however, reported the Seahawks have also done their due diligence on the idea of adding Manning.
La Canfora reported Tuesday the Washington Redskins will also have some interest in Manning, although acquiring a quarterback through the draft could turn out to be the team's preference.
It also raised eyebrows during the NFL Scouting Combine when Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel declared he would be âcrazyâ not to consider acquiring Manning. Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli refused to discuss Manning, but has pledged to bring in competition in some form for incumbent starter Matt Cassel.
What we haven't heard is where Manning wants to play. His medical status will be a factor, but if he proves healthy, Manning certainly has the leverage to dictate where he will play in 2012.