Found March 10, 2012 on
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TEMPE, Ariz. There were plenty of impressive quarterbacks on hand for the Kurt Warner Ultimate Football Experience on Saturday at the Cardinals practice complex. Some might even be termed free agents.
There was the host himself. There was Hall of Famer Steve Young, rising star Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and even former Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Unfortunately for the media throng assembled, there were no Peyton Manning sightings and no word on his exact whereabouts.
Cards receiver Larry Fitzgerald insisted he was out of the loop and that there were no clandestine workouts planned at Arizona State University, as Fitzgerald did last summer with Kevin Kolb.
"I'm not saying I don't have his phone number," Fitzgerald told a large media contingent. "But I haven't heard anything."
As one local scribe put it: "There's a lot of man power being wasted here today."
The Cardinals were predictably mum on Manning's whereabouts or whether he was even coming, despite reports he was headed this way this weekend. Was he still in Denver, imprisoned by John Elway until he signs on the dotted line? Was he back in Miami? Was he somewhere in Arizona, waiting for the watchful eyes of the press to give up? Was he kissing babies in a third-world nation?
With no answers this day, all that was left was speculation, so we turned to the guys on the field for their thoughts on Manning mania.
"With the exception of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, every other team has to look into a Peyton Manning. You don't get guys like this loose much on the market," said the always loquacious Michael Irvin, a former star receiver with Dallas. "This is a coach who calls plays on the line of scrimmage. I can't tell you the advantage that is. And what he does, he's the only man in the world that does it."
There are several cities still in the hunt to land Manning, although that number may have dwindled by two when the Redskins acquired the Rams No. 2 pick, presumably to draft Baylor QB Robert Griffin III, while the Jets rewarded embattled QB Mark Sanchez with a three-year 40.5 million extension.
Unless a dark horse emerges, the three perceived leaders are the Dolphins, Broncos and the Cardinals, with Kansas City and Seattle also on the radar. Each has its own set of advantages being touted by the organization and even the local media.
The Dolphins and Broncos have lots to spend and solid offensive lines. The Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald and that domed stadium.
"I think Miami still has the upper hand," Warner said. "Since Day One they've made it known, 'we want him to be our guy and we'll do whatever we have to, to get him.' If you're a guy in that situation, at that stage of your career that's what you want to hear.
"You want to go some place where they're saying, 'we're going to roll out the red carpet. Whatever you need, we're willing to make those moves. Bring your receiver with you, sign you to whatever kind of deal you want.'"
Young believes there's a factor which analysts are overlooking in Manning's decision.
"I think the most important thing he has to do is come down here and interview the receivers," said Young said, stressing, in Arizona's case, that Manning must measure the aptitude of the receivers beyond Larry Fitzgerald. "Are these a group of guys where I can get them up to speed and go dominate the NFL?"
Warner said he told Manning at the Super Bowl that he'd be willing to pass along any intelligence he'd gathered from his time playing for the Cards. But as of Saturday morning, Manning had not taken him up on that offer.
"I don't think there's any question coach (Ken) Whis(enhunt) is going to be flexible," Warner said. "But the bottom line is the pieces to the puzzle. What's Peyton looking for from that standpoint? He's going to make that decision where he feels the pieces are best in place for him and that team to succeeed."
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All of this talk about where will Peyton Manning play and will he come to Kansas City has me thinking…Kansas City really doesn’t want Manning. Let Denver and Arizona fight it out for Peyton, Kansas City Chiefs are much better off staying put and staying far away from all this Manning-hoopla. Doesn’t everyone remember how [...]
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Peyton Manning attends a press conference announcing Manning's release from the Colts at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on March 7, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Joey Foley/Getty Images)
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