The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Manning pursuit creating a mess in San Francisco? Lard 3-18-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Titans brass met Peyton Manning in Knoxville to see the QB throw, with GM Ruston Webster issuing a statement quite similar to that tweeted by John Elway the day before. Could be that Webster was tweaking his competitor, but it seems just as likely Manning (or CAA) may have directed both parties what to say. Speculation continues that Peyton will issue his decision shortly after this weekend, but as Adam Schefter stressed on SportsCenter this morning, such a timeline has not come directly from Manning himself. Meanwhile, David Climer reminds us that Peyton has always been quite tight-lipped regarding his career decisions, as Volunteers fans know quite well.

With the Niners having entered the fray after having dragged their feet on re-signing Alex Smith, Smith is now considering a change in representation, and today he is visiting the Dolphins, who are considered the favorites to land former Packers QB Matt Flynn. Flynn also visited the Seahawks and is said to be deciding between the two teams.

There's been plenty of talk this weekend about how well San Francisco has played the situation, but imagine how they'll look if Manning chooses Denver or Tennessee, and Smith ends up signing elsewhere as well. Whoever is quarterbacking the Niners this year, he'll have both Randy Moss and Giants SB hero Mario Manningham to throw to, after the wideout agreed to a two-year deal with the team yesterday.

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Manning pursuit a Foxy call; Peyton to throw for Titans today Lard 3-17-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Woody Paige dropped something of a bombshell this morning - he says the Broncos' chase for Peyton Manning was started not by John Elway or Pat Bowlen, but by John Fox. Yes, the same Fox we have ripped for his conservative play-calling and fourth-down decisions; whom Paige had suggested last week would be unwilling to run Manning's no-huddle offense; the guy who considers throwing the ball to be a risky proposition. Yep, that John Fox.

It's been said and written countless times that Fox would always prefer to run the ball given his druthers, but it's been likewise beaten to death that he prefers older QBs. But at the same time, we're talking about a coach who has had the misfortune of having at his disposal only journeyman Rodney Peete, mistake-prone Jake Delhomme, baseball player Chris Weinke, a 44-year-old version of Vinny Testaverde, the oft-replaced Matt Moore, bust Jimmy Clausen, a Tebowmania-frazzled Kyle Orton, and Tebow, who Fox himself said would "be screwed" if the Broncos ran a conventional offense.

So here he is, facing potentially another year of Tebowmania in the face, and what does the risk-averse coach tell Woody?

Sometimes you have to be willing to take big risks in life.

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Farewell Eddie, we don’t wish you luck Lard 3-16-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Mike Klis says it appears the Manning sweeps is down to Denver and Tennessee, with Miami having turned its attention to Matt Flynn and Arizona expected to be ruled out today with their Kevin Kolb roster bonus deadline looming. Mike Lombardi says the same.

Says Duke head man and Manning Family Coach David Cutcliffe about his pupil's health:

It’s incredible how much progress he’s made in throwing the football. He’s gotten his arm strength back and his accuracy is there. I’m not an NFL coach, of course, but I think I know what it takes to complete passes in the NFL, and it’s clear that Peyton can make all those throws.

From what I’ve seen, he’s right on target for that. Everybody knows what a hard worker he is, and he’s dedicated himself to getting ready for the season.

BTW, has anyone noticed that the Niners and Alex Smith still haven't agreed to a new contract yet?

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Titans coaches, FO couldn’t convince Adams not to pursue Manning Lard 3-15-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning spent 6.5 hours at Titans headquarters last night and, according to Titans owner Bud Adams, took a call from the governor of Tennessee while he was there. According to David Climer, Manning is intrigued by the idea of finishing his pro career where he played his college ball, and word is that Adams may be dangling a front-office position and/or partial team ownership to sweeten the pot for Peyton.

As for when he'll make his decision, Mike Freeman hears Peyton is shooting for Sunday at the latest, and he thinks Denver is still the frontrunner. According to Freeman, some of the teams Manning already visited with (Denver, Arizona, Miami) have been calling the QB during his travels to and/or visits with the other teams, to remind him why their team/city is best for him. Was there any doubt this occurs?

Mike Klis says that before turning their attention to Manning, the Broncos were content to sign a backup for Tim Tebow the likes of Josh Johnson and draft another QB in the first three rounds.

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Brandon Marshall, nightclubs, & women do not mix well together Lard 3-14-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Old friend Brandon Marshall is expected to rejoin Jay Cutler with the Bears after Chicago agreed to send two third-rounders to Miami in return for him - two years after Miami had given up two second-rounders in a trade with Denver. There had been speculation that Miami was clearing Marshall's moodiness from the locker room and his salary from the cap, both to help the team sign Peyton Manning.

But the trade looks different this morning, as Marshall is accused of having cold-cocked a woman outside an NYC nightclub early Sunday. This, after Marshall was apparently kicked out of the club for fighting with another, unnamed NFL player. Busy lawyer Harvey Steinberg didn't quite deny the allegation, but he claims that Marshall's wife was struck in the face by a thrown bottle and "suffered serious injury."

Marshall turns 28 in two weeks and had taken up the cause for spreading awareness for Borderline Personality Disorder, but he will again be associated with a nightclub incident and alleged violence against women.

Let's see how the Bears handle this news, and the potential for yet another suspension of Marshall by the NFL.

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Will Peyton decide before start of free agency today? Lard 3-13-12

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.

Meanwhile, John McClain reasserted yesterday that Houston is not pursuing Manning, and there is still no indication the 49ers have any interest, despite Mike Klis's report to the contrary.

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.

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Manning willing to work out, offer financial protection for injury Lard 3-12-12

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.

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Manning “leaning toward Denver” Lard 3-11-12

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).

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Recapping a wild NFL Friday Lard 3-10-12

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Friday was a remarkably eventful day for the Broncos - Peyton Manning spent at least 10 hours with the Denver leadership in Oklahoma, Dove Valley, and Cherry Hills, and there's a possibility the two parties will reconvene this morning. While Manning is expected to depart for visit(s) to Arizona and/or Miami, word is that no meetings have yet been scheduled, and there's thus always the slight chance Elway & Co. get Peyton to sign on before he can even make it out of town. Kansas City is asking Hey what about us?, but it's yet to be seen whether they're a real contender.

Less exciting for Denver was the announcement that D.J. Williams, Ryan McBean (six games each), and Virgil Green (four games) will be suspended for PED use, with allegations of non-human urine and the specter of federal lawsuits by the former two against the NFL adding to the drama. Green claims his suspension is for prescribed ADHD medication that he had failed to notify the NFL about initially, but he is cleared to take it going forward.

Elsewhere, Mike Shanahan ostensibly put all his chips in on Robert Griffin III, sending to St. Louis the #6 and #39 picks in this year's draft, plus Washington's first-rounders in 2013 and 2014, in exchange for the second-overall pick next month. There are reports that this move does not take Washington out of the Manning sweepstakes, but adding both RG3 and Peyton is wacky even by Shanny and Dan Snyder's standards, not to mention that signing in D.C. now makes even less sense for Manning than it already had.

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Peyton’s neck should be fine Lard 3-9-12

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! According to multiple spine specialists, the health of Peyton Manning's neck is not an issue, assuming his fusion procedures were a success. Rather, they say the bone should actually be stronger now, and the only real question is whether Manning's arm strength is where it needs to be. The doctors USA Today spoke to echo these sentiments. With that out of the way, let's check in on Denver's presumed competition for his services:

The Dolphins are apparently all in on Manning, to the point that they haven't yet expressed interest in Matt Flynn. Coach Joe Philbin says the team hasn't yet spoken with the QB but confirms they hope to in the coming days. FWIW, Reggie Wayne would love to end up in Miami with Peyton.

Contrary to yesterday's report, Mike Florio is hearing that Peyton has not told Washington they're out of the running, even if that still appears the likely outcome.

Adam Teicher acknowledges that the Chiefs certainly have the cap room, but he thinks adding Manning would be quite a divergence from the franchise's plan to build for the long term.

As for the Niners, there is still a gap between them and Alex Smith in terms of both years and guaranteed money on a potential deal. Are they not budging because they're considering a run at Manning?

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