We're starting a new entry to cover news from 5PM ET and beyond, see above.
4:29 PM Jason Cole: Denver pursuit of DT Paul soliai is slow because of manning. KC also interested and Miami wants him back.
4:18 PM Adam Schefter: Free-agent safety Brandon Meriweather plans to visit the Denver Broncos tonight.
4:48 PM Pierre Garcon: I wanted you all to hear it from me 1st before u saw it on the news... I will be signing with the Washington Redskins and I'm very excited about the opportunity in front of me.
3:56 PM Jay Glazer: Major scoopage! The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms of a trade w Miami for pro bowl WR Brandon Marshall in exchange for 2 third-rounders.
The NFLPA has released a statement in support of D.J. Williams and Ryan McBean, who are facing suspensions for violations of the league's drug policy:
The NFLPA is disappointed by the decisions in the cases of Ryan McBean and D.J. Williams. Despite substantial evidence of breaches in the collection protocol and other procedural irregularities, the NFL decided to punish these players without judicious review of the facts. The League-appointed hearing officer then affirmed the discipline, even though the specimen collector was fired by his agency for not following procedures. The NFL also failed to produce the sample collector as a witness during the players' appeals hearing.
With the Manning Sweepstakes in high gear, the quality of the OL play in Denver is something that’s been a peripheral to the circus itself. Without doubt, the quality of a team's receivers and offensive line will be part of the equation for Peyton as he chooses a new home. Of course, Peyton demands a high level of play from the players around him - he directs his troops with an iron hand and a sharp tongue on the field. It’s among the key reasons that he - much like John Elway did in his time - has annually driven players with lesser talents to the playoffs, winning a Lombardi Trophy along the way and making another Super Bowl appearance three seasons ago.
It's often been noted - here, elsewhere - and by Peyton himself - that Indy has had a rough time at pass protection in recent years. Yet, during Manning's last three seasons, he took just 40 sacks in 48 regular-season games. It's safe to say he's looking to go to a team where pass pro won't be so much of an issue. That considered, how does Denver's front five stack up relative to Manning's standard?
Good Morning, Broncos fans! The Dolphins finally got their meeting with Peyton Manning, even if it likely wasn't quite what they had likely envisioned. Instead of the full-court press both Denver and Arizona were able to employ, Miami sent new head coach Joe Philbin, OC Mike Sherman, and other members of the coaching staff, who met with Manning in Indianapolis for between five and six hours last night.
Manning is next expected to meet with Titans coach Mike Munchak either today or tomorrow at an undisclosed location. The Titans were reportedly planning on making a big push to sign Mario Williams but have now instead shifted their attention to Manning.
Klis says there's an outside chance Manning announces his decision before today's 4pm ET free-agency kickoff, and he reports that John Fox assured Peyton he would be allowed to run his hurry-up offense in Denver. Of course, if this weren't the case, Peyton wouldn't have bothered showing up in the first place.
12:45 AM Been asked for thoughts on Mike Silver's article. In an nutshell it's this: he took the path of max clicks. Everyone else took one side of the argument, so hopping on the other was sure to get more play--especially given his historical treatment of Tebow. In this case, playing Tebow as the victim was bound to get the most eyeballs because most writers had already given the take that going after Manning--under any circumstance--was the right course of action. I remember Silver saying on radio once his job was to get people to read his stories. He knows what he's doing. That's why he's lasted as long as he has.
12:01 AM Random thought from TJ after listening to the Brandon Stokley interview on 104.3 The Fan for the 3rd time: Stokley said, "if Peyton wants me to come back and play for the Broncos, I will." Yeah, I know. I shouldn't read too much into this, right?
11:30 PM Pete Prisco weighs in: The word I hear tonight from one league exec is he thinks Manning, Wayne and Clark all might be going to Denver.
Not sure how much stock to put in this. If Prisco's forecast is anything like his ability to pick NFL games on a weekly basis, this one is a loser.
11:16 PM Jeff Darlington (Brady Quinn's BFF): High-ranking Dolphins source says coach Joe Philbin indeed met with Manning for 6 hrs tonight in Indy. Again, few details from team's side.
Joe Philbin or John Fox, who you got? Give me the Marlboro Man any day of the week.
11:07 PM Former Coach Brian Billick on whether or not he'd want Tebow in a trade: they don’t want him, why should I?”
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning spent over 6.5 hours meeting with Cardinals officials in Tempe yesterday before heading back to Miami, where he owns a condo. Yet despite his proximity there to the Dolphins, it still is not expected that Manning will meet with the team that had been largely considered the favorite to land the QB - that is, until Denver got involved. If Manning does turn down Miami's advances, the team is expected to turn its attention to Green Bay QB Matt Flynn tomorrow.
Tennessee owner Bud Adams made it abundantly clear he'd like an audience with Peyton, but there are currently no expectations that will happen. Yet, Albert Breer thinks several factors make the Titans an attractive option for the former UT Volunteer.
Vic Lombardi set the Twittersphere afire last night by saying the Broncos are "95% confident" they'll sign Manning because they heard from the QB, but the team disputed that report. Mike Florio seems to think there's substance behind Lombardi's tweets, and it could be the Broncos are simply respecting the process. It's worth noting that Lombardi has been the most consistently accurate Denver media figure throughout this process - so there's that.
Per the master, Vic Lombardi:
Just heard from my peoples (sic). Broncos now 95% confident he'll sign with Denver. Their number, not mine...Broncos were contacted by manning TONIGHT
The Broncos wouldn't use this kind of language (would they?) knowing Lombardi is about to send this news out to the world. The other 5%? Let's call it the margin of error. This is all but done, Bronco Country--according to someone.
UPDATE: Lindsay Jones and Michelle Beisner are throwing some lukewarm water on Vic's story. Not sure what to make of the situation, but Lombardi has been all over this story from the beginning. Someone inside Dove Valley believes the Broncos got them a HOF QB not named Elway. The cook perhaps?
Broncos official wants it known: Manning didn't call team today or tonight & inform they're 95% fave. Manning source already refuted to me
Okay, who in the hell hacked Vic Lombardi's twitter account in the last hour?
TOTALLY TUBULAR TRIPLE UPDATE: Lombardi appears to be crumbling under the avalanche:
Learning how powerful Twitter really is. Not trying to cause an uproar. Is this really life or death? Let's sit back and wait.
I'd hate to be Vic if the Broncos don't get Manning at this point because no, it really isn't life or death. It's football.
11:45 PM No word yet if Tim Tebow plans to drop the "2" from GB².
11:11 PM The way Doug Farrar hears it, the Chiefs aren't going quietly: Just talked to a reliable source in KC -- the Chiefs aren't out of it either. Productive meetings between KC and Peyton's people.
11:07 PM As Mike Florio reports, the Cardinals have serious work to do to create cap space if they want to sign Manning: The Cardinals are $16.4 million over the cap, as adjusted to reflect $2 million in 2011 carryover and $1.333 million in downward adjustments. Amazingly, the Cardinals could have carried over $7.04 million. They opted only to carry over $2 million.
Not sure why the Cards didn't carry over the full amount. Did they not think this all the way until the end?
8:45 PM Klis reports that contracts were never discussed on either of Manning's visits to Denver and Arizona; Bowlen met with Manning for 20-30 minutes and Bowlen said he wants Super Bowls, not division titles; Brandon Stokley and John Lynch met with Manning while in Denver; Arizon was "red carpet" while Denver was "low key;" finally, Klis believes this could drag on until Tuesday if the Titans and/or 49ers were to make a run at Manning.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning is currently in Arizona to visit with the Cardinals after having departed Denver last night . Expectations are that Manning will head back to his Miami home sometime tonight, potentially meet with the Dolphins at some point, and make his decision by Tuesday morning and the start of free agency.
Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen are reporting that Denver and Arizona are the favorites to sign Manning, who is apparently refusing Seattle's advances. Their source who spoke with Peyton sometime before his meeting with the Cardinals says Manning appears to be "leaning toward Denver."
Back in Denver, Woody Paige is pompously reminding us that he and Mike Klis were the first to report Manning's visit to Dove Valley despite having self-servingly written three days ago that Denver had no shot at landing the QB.
He says the two parties spoke for more than 15 hours between Friday and Saturday, and the Broncos apparently told Peyton they are willing to sign some of his fellow ex-Colts via free agency. According to Paige, Manning's people reached out to the Texans to gauge interest but were told the team is not interested (which John McClain of the Chronicle had made clear from the start).
Jim Saccomano, Vice President of Public Relations for the Broncos, accomplished something today worth noting. He combined his typical effervescent I've been in this game longer than y'all have hubris and combined it with his other chief quality--namely, ass kissing.
First, he managed to bang out this tweet:
Critics are always there, but what TR said about the process remains true--the credit belongs to the one in the arena. #fb— Jim Saccomano (@broncos_sacco) March 10, 2012
This is a constant Sacco theme, and it goes something like this: critics suck, but we know what we are doing over here. Of course, he said this before Josh McDaniels, during Josh McDaniels, and after Josh McDaniels. He also did it before Tebow, during Tebow, and perhaps (now) after Tebow. In short, every decision the Broncos make is right, right now. I'd find this sort of loyalty laudable if it weren't purchased with six figures.