NEW YORK —
Rex Ryan’s Jets need leadership in a lost locker room. The Dolphins are looking for stability at a position that has been a revolving door since Dan Marino retired.
The Cardinals want to get back to the Super Bowl, and could be one elite quarterback away.
Peyton Manning, anyone?
The four-time NFL MVP got released by the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday, but made it clear he still wants to play.
“I don’t want to retire,” Manning said. “Nobody loves playing quarterback more than I do.”
The question is where.
Maybe it’s Miami. The Arizona desert. Two Mannings in Manhattan?
Washington, Seattle, Kansas City, Denver and Tennessee are also possible suitors.
But for now, it’s anybody’s guess.
“I haven’t thought yet about where I’ll play,” he said, “but I have thought a lot about where I’ve been.”
Plenty of teams will be interested in the 35-year-old free agent quarterback — as long as he proves he’s healthy after missing last season while coming off a series of neck operations. If everything checks out, the laundry list of teams will be lengthy — a Peyton-palooza of sorts.
And, why not? Manning has been one of the greatest to play his position, rewriting record books while throwing for nearly 55,000 yards and 399 touchdowns, and winning a Super Bowl along the way.
Ryan’s Jets could be the landing spot, a scenario that would have Manning sharing the New York-area headlines with his brother Eli of the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. That sure would ramp things up in their sibling rivalry — and the teams’ back-and-forth battle for the city spotlight. It would also likely signal the end for Mark Sanchez after three up-and-down seasons.
The Dolphins have said they would strongly pursue Manning if he became available, even after Matt Moore had a solid season while taking over for a team that has tried to replace Marino since 2000.
The Cardinals, three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, are an intriguing possibility with one of the game’s top wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald. But they still have a lot of money invested in quarterback Kevin Kolb.
“There will be no other Peyton Manning,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said.
Which is exactly why the quarterback will be one of the most sought-after free agents in NFL history.
Here’s a look at some of his options.
Certainly having Fitzgerald there would give Manning a game-changing receiver. Arizona would also offer Manning a warm-weather climate.
The Cardinals also have been known to go after the big-named signal caller, as they did with Kurt Warner a few years ago.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt gave Warner lots of freedom at the line of scrimmage and would have no problem doing that with Manning. The problem? Arizona made a big splash last offseason when it signed Kolb to a huge contract, and would owe him a $7 million roster bonus on March 17 if he remains on the team.
What about Tebow Time?
Well, despite going 8-5 and guiding the Broncos back to the playoffs for the first time in six years, Tim Tebow lost four of his last five starts and completed fewer than half his passes. Team vice president John Elway has said Tebow will be the starter when training camp rolls around — but stopped short of naming him the QB for the season.
That’s because there are still plenty of questions about Tebow. The Broncos haven’t had a franchise quarterback since Elway retired following his second straight championship more than a decade ago. But they’re eager to see what Tebow can do with a regular offseason and dedication to becoming a pocket passer. Sure, he could learn a few things from Manning being around, but his growth could also be stunted.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Matt Cassel was a Pro Bowl quarterback just two years ago, but a healthy Manning would be a step up. A big one.
The Chiefs also have a terrific trio of young playmakers in running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end Tony Moeaki. Manning would have people around him to make plays.
And coach Romeo Crennel put the Chiefs in the conversation when he welcomed the idea of having Manning on his team at the NFL combine a few weeks ago.
Still, Kansas City owes Cassel $5.25 million this year, $7.5 million next year and $9 million in 2014 — a hefty bill for a backup.
They also have a new offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll, and general manager Scott Pioli is often pretty hands on when it comes to that side of the ball. Would there be a clash?
When the Dolphins hired the offensive-minded Joe Philbin as coach in January, team officials privately said they would go after Manning if he became available.
Miami has money, terrific talent and warm weather: three big selling points for the Dolphins. Manning also has a home there.
The team has started 16 quarterbacks since Marino retired, but Moore played well last year after Chad Henne was sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury. There are doubts, though, that Moore is a franchise quarterback, and if the Dolphins don’t sign Manning, they may pursue Green Bay’s Matt Flynn or try to trade up and draft a quarterback in the first round.
NEW YORK JETS
Ryan has repeatedly expressed his admiration and respect for Manning, and the Jets aren’t far removed from winning. They went to consecutive AFC championship games before in-fighting contributed to the team finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs.
Sanchez has been the face of the franchise since they traded up to draft him fifth overall in 2009, but the Jets have said they will look at every position if they can improve. They also had Tom Moore, Manning’s former offensive coordinator, as a consultant last season — although it’s unclear if he’ll be back.
Despite the Jets’ recent success under Ryan, the locker-room discord might be a deterrent for Manning. He also might be unwilling to play in the circus atmosphere of New York, a town in which Eli has become a huge star. Think the city’s media would play up the sibling rivalry?
Salary cap issues also might prevent the Jets from being a true contender, financially.
Seattle has its franchise running back in Marshawn Lynch, and seems to be solid on the outside with receivers Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Doug Baldwin and tight end Zach Miller. The offensive line is young and improved, but the remaining question for Seattle’s offense is at quarterback.
Tarvaris Jackson toughed his way through a painful pectoral injury for more than half of last season, but was never overly impressive. Manning could be the answer.
Still, Jackson has never been given much of a chance as a starter and played fairly well while battling his injury and was respected in the locker room.
Fans have already started a “Come Back, Peyton” campaign, with billboards and radio ads pushing for Manning to return to Tennessee, where he starred in college for the Vols.
The Titans drafted Jake Locker with the No. 8 pick last April and signed Matt Hasselbeck to a three-year deal last July, but they went 9-7. They have around $30 million in cap space they need to use on finding a pass rush.
While a happy homecoming would make for a nice story, general manager Ruston Webster has said twice in the past month — to season-ticket holders — and at the NFL combine that the team is happy with its quarterbacks.
Owner Dan Snyder always seems to be in play when it comes to signing big-name free agents, and the Redskins are in major need of a quarterback.
Mike Shanahan has whiffed on three (Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck) in his two years in Washington, and the Redskins are expected to pursue Manning if they can determine he’s healthy. They have plenty of cap space, and the Redskins can lobby Manning by saying they’ll use that room to be aggressive in free agency.
But that also could make them less appealing to Manning, since they’re lacking at so many positions.
NEW YORK —
Rex Ryan’s Jets need leadership in a lost locker room. The Dolphins are looking for stability at a position that has been a revolving door since Dan Marino retired.
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Werner, 36 others open Colts’ mini camp
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Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Werner at top of game
Bjoern Werner was a late comer to football. But after being selected in the first round of the 2013 National Football League draft by the Indianapolis Colts, Werner realizes that he has reached the pinnacle of the sport in a relatively short amount of time.
Colts select pass rusher Werner in first round
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Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
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Colts veteran among those excited to see Luck's growth in 2013-14
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Redding, who has become one of the Colts’ lockerroom leaders after just one season with the team, thinks he has some reasonable expectations of Indianapolis’ former No. 1 draft pick.
Heyward-Bey feeling fortunate to hook up with Luck
Add one more player to the list of veteran free agents signed by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey agreed to a a deal with the Colts late Monday evening. Bey, who played collegiately at Maryland, was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
Colts sign nose tackle
Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).
Colts sign Matt Hasselbeck to back up Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster moves just keep coming.
While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Colts likely done signing free agents, for now
With the possible exception of adding a few lesser-priced players, the Indianapolis Colts’ big-time foray into the veteran free-agent marketplace is pretty much done.
Landry, Jean Francois join Colts defensive unit
After adding five veteran free agent players to the Indianapolis Colts roster on Tuesday, general manager Ryan Grigson plucked two more plums late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
Colts introduce free-agent signees
What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
Colts sign five free agents, filling needs at offensive line, cornerback
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Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday thrilled to retire as a Colt
The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in-between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — that Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday to retire as Colt on Thursday
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Indianapolis franchises punter McAfee
A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
Colts GM enjoying time at combine
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Colts keeping eye on large crop of talented linemen in NFL Draft
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Colts' Pagano back to full work schedule at combine
Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
Former Pro Bowl selection Freeney won't return to Colts
The news coming out of the Indianapolis Colts headquarters Friday afternoon was not totally unexpected. Team officials have confirmed that two veteran players – former Pro Bowl defensive end/outside linebacker Dwight Freeney and wide receiver Austin Collie — will not be returning for the 2013 season.
Colts’ new offensive coordinator will offer variety
Quarterback Andrew Luck running the Pistol offense? Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton lining up in the Wildcat?
Colts moving on to the off season
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Baltimore ends Indy’s playoff run early
The Baltimore Ravens want one long final ride for Ray Lewis. Having disposed of Andrew Luck and the Colts, they now face a more imposing challenge.
Next up, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Switching sides: Colts-Ravens matchup includes old friends on new teams
Just as Baltimore Ravens players and coaches will be seeing some old friends returning to M&T Bank Stadium today, several Indianapolis Colts veterans will also have an opportunity to renew acquaintances with a familiar face.
Pagano prepares Colts for tough crowd in Baltimore
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Pagano marvels at Colt’s progress
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