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Dolphins move forward after unsuccessful Manning courtship

From the beginning, it was always clear what Peyton Manning wanted.

He was looking for comfort. For familiarity. For a place where he could finish his career without having to start something completely new.

And although the Miami Dolphins always made sense for plenty of reasons, particularly because he liked what he saw from a personnel standpoint, it never made sense for any of the most important ones. Not even with a condo in South Beach.

Manning contacted the Dolphins on Thursday to advise them personally that he would not sign with Miami, according to multiple sources. And so the Dolphins will continue building without him, not overly discouraged as a result.

Even as they made a major push to sign Manning, they always had a strong sense they were never the leaders in the race. Manning was always respectful and honest through the process, sources said, and the Dolphins remained consistent to their own plans as well.

For instance, the push for Manning did not alter the Dolphins' plans to trade Brandon Marshall, sources said. Miami was intent on making that move, and although the Dolphins told Manning during their Monday meeting that Marshall might or might not be with the team, they never made guarantees either way.

The Dolphins also never made a major push for wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Another source explained Manning and Wayne had always made it clear their decisions would be made independent of each other despite widespread speculation that the two could become a package deal.

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Wayne was looking for one last big deal (which he found in Indianapolis), but Dolphins sources did not feel like, based on their own research and information, that adding Wayne was going to give them any better chance of adding Manning.

Despite the fact that the Dolphins' brass was forced to meet Manning in Indianapolis, they did not feel like Manning was giving them less of a chance for that reason. Manning has spent three different occasions at Miami's facility, including a full week when the Colts practiced there in preparation for Super Bowl XLI. The Dolphins also never felt like Manning was using them for leverage, something he proved by calling them Thursday to take his name out of their potential plans.

On Monday, coach Joe Philbin, general manager Jeff Ireland, owner Stephen Ross and several staff members all boarded a flight chartered by Ross to Indianapolis, where Philbin spent the bulk of the time with Manning. Ross, however, also got his fair share of time to pitch Manning.

At the start of the courtship, the Dolphins reached out to several members of the organization -- from Dan Marino to Jason Taylor to Reggie Bush -- to begin reaching out to Manning as a way to increase the familiarity between him and the organization.

But one Dolphins source contends the team did not need any of them to schedule the meeting with Manning. While it might have helped, the source said, Manning never actually turned down the Dolphins' original request for an interview.

So now, with the unsuccessful courtship of Manning behind them, the Dolphins will move forward with their plans to court Packers quarterback Matt Flynn, who is expected to visit the Dolphinsafter his meeting with the Seahawks.

From the sound of it, it isn't a done deal just yet. The Dolphins would still need to have a good visit with Flynn and also reach a fair contract that's going to work for both sides.

So where will the Dolphins go for a quarterback next? We'll soon find out. But this much is known: It won't be Manning. That courtship is officially over.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington

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