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The ball's in Peyton Manning's court; Titans, Broncos hopeful

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Your move, Peyton.

This year's top NFL free agent heard four teams' pitches in person. Owners squired him around the country on private jets. Politicians have weighed in. Fans are growing restless.

Now Peyton Manning needs to decide what happens next.

NFL Network's Michael Lombardi wrote Thursday that it's likely become a two-team race between the Denver Broncos and the Tennessee Titans.

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The Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins are also awaiting word from Manning, the only four-time MVP in NFL history. If there's no word from Manning by Friday, the Cardinals might have to move on. That's because Arizona will need to decide by 4 p.m. ET whether to release quarterback Kevin Kolb, who will be due $7 million if he is on the roster Saturday.

Kolb's not the only player whose future will be affected by Manning, who became a free agent March 7, when the Indianapolis Colts decided to cut him to avoid paying a $28 million bonus. Miami is also interested in quarterback Matt Flynn, just in case the Dolphins lose out on Manning.

In a move that the Titans can only hope will help their efforts to attract Manning, they improved their offensive line by signing free-agent guard Steve Hutchinson on Thursday. He is a five-time All Pro who spent the past six seasons with Minnesota before being released Saturday.

Lombardi reported that a key to the Titans' pitch could be their ability to offer Manning an organizational role after his playing days are over. According to Lombardi, Manning would be more likely to find such a spot with the Titans than in Denver, where John Elway holds a key management position.

Titans owner Bud Adams later told KHOU-11 Sports in Houston that he had offered Manning a contract "for life" and added that he "feels great" about the team's chance of signing Manning.

If Manning wants to feel wanted, there is no shortage of wooing going on.

"I'm the governor; I'm not supposed to be getting involved in sports issues. Although I did hear that my buddy (Tennessee Gov.) Bill Haslam was calling Manning, trying to call Manning, to encourage him to come to Tennessee," Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a telephone interview.

Asked whether he would make a similar attempt, Hickenlooper replied: "Oh, sure. If I could get his number."

In Tennessee, meanwhile, state lawmakers passed a resolution calling on Manning to sign with the Titans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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