Latest on Peyton Manning, Dolphins are still in the mix?

The Miami Dolphins were viewed as the favorites to sign Peyton Manning before he was officially released by the Colts.  Even up until Friday, the Dolphins were still considered the favorites.  Who thought they were the favorites?  Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, and Jason LaCanfora, and others believed it was the Dolphins game to lose.  Mortensen said on Thursday night that he expected Manning to choose a new team within 3-4 days.  Conservatively, that would put Manning’s decision around Monday/Tuesday.

Then, this weekend came around and Peyton met with the Denver Broncos on Friday/Saturday and the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday/Sunday.  Now, Mortensen and Schefter both contend that it’s essentially down to the Broncos and Cardinals, with the Dolphins fading into the distance.  It’s been widely reported that Manning did not discuss contracts with either team. Further, the ESPN insiders suggest that Manning’s decision could last another week.  Following all of that?  It just doesn’t add up.  If Manning has narrowed his choices to the Broncos and Cardinals, why would he extend that time he needed to make his decision?

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have gone into ‘lock down mode’ according to Armando Salguero.  The Dolphins appear set on keeping quiet and hoping to make their pitch to Peyton.  While many in the mainstream media are suggesting the Dolphins are out of the race, Armando contends that the Dolphins are still in it.  There is the possibility that the Dolphins have been in touch with Manning and they have set up a meeting for today…it’s pure speculation, but an educated guess.  Maybe Peyton doesn’t think he’ll be able to decide as quickly as he wanted because he wants to visit with the Dolphins, and perhaps another team or two (Tennessee?).

According to most of the reports I’ve seen, the Broncos and Cardinals both made very good pitches to Peyton during his visits.  As Jeff Darlington writes, the Dolphins need to pull out all the stops if they get Peyton.  I agree 100% with Darlington, who suggests the Dolphins should call in all the resources available to them.  This includes Don Shula and Dan Marino (friend of Manning’s).  Darlington also suggests that having Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess at the facility when Peyton arrives.  Great idea!  It seems that Joe Philbin might be the man to lead the meeting with Manning.  Again, this is a great idea because he’s a football guy.  He’s been the man behind the Packers explosive offense.  Who better to talk X’s and O’s with Peyton?

It’s still not a certainty that the Dolphins will get their meeting….but they like their chances.  Adam Schefter said this morning on ESPN Radio that Peyton isn’t sure if he’ll meet with any more teams…although he has not closed the door on talking to the Dolphins.  It’s very hard to cut through all of the smokescreens and pure speculation regarding Manning.  Last night there was a local Denver reporter who said that Peyton had reached out to the Broncos and that they were 95% sure they’d sign him.  This was later debunked by Chris Mortensen as totally inaccurate..,..but who really knows??

The complication for the Dolphins is that any delay beyond tomorrow at 4pm would mean the Dolphins are potentially missing out on other free agents, while waiting for Manning to sign.  The Dolphins supposed backup plan, Matt Flynn, will be wooed by other teams starting at 4pm tomorrow.  If the Dolphins wait too long, they risk missing out on Flynn.  However, personally, I’m not too concerned.  As long as Manning doesn’t take another week or 2 and decides by say, this weekend, the Dolphins should still have a shot at Flynn.  Why?  Because I’m confident that Joe Philbin has reached out to Flynn already.  Flynn knows Philbin’s offense and knows that joining with Philbin in Miami is probably his best chance to succeed.  He also knows that if the Dolphins miss out on Manning, they’ll be desperate.  And a desperate Steve Ross means more money.  So Flynn would be wise to shop his services, see what he can get, and then take it to the Dolphins and see if they will beat it (if they lose on Manning).

[UPDATE 3:30PM] – The Dolphins have a meeting set up with Peyton Manning.  Coach Joe Philbin is expected to meet with Peyton Monday night or Tuesday morning…story here

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