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.

All considered, Denver still appears to be in the lead, with Arizona next, and the Titans and Dolphins making their late pushes. The guess here is Peyton has no desire to experience the circus that would come with playing either the Colts (with Tennessee) or Patriots (with Miami) twice a year for the rest of his career. He seems like a guy wary of the most intense spotlights, and motivated not by revenge, but by the desire to win another championship. Even if Tennessee is a better team than Denver at this point, their path to a division title is impeded by Houston, and of course it may be many years before the Dolphins again beat the Pats for the AFC East title.

With the Niners apparently about to re-up with Alex Smith, they will offer hefty competition for Arizona even if Peyton should go there. Denver has loads of cap room, and the Cardinals do not. They already started making room by cutting their starting left tackle, but to create enough room to sign Manning to the deal he deserves and also add more players (ie Peyton's ex-Colts teammates), some cap-related gymnastics may be in order.

As we said last week, Denver just makes a ton of sense for Peyton, and nothing changed that. Here's hoping he sees it the same way.

Broncos

D.J. Williams and Ryan McBean filed suit against the NFL in Denver District Court over their drug suspensions; Denver tendered all of its restricted free agents, including McBean.

Legwold reiterates Denver's distinct advantage over Arizona relative to available salary cap space, and he reminds us that Manning will have to pass a team physical before signing a contract.

Matt Bowen thinks the Broncos and Titans are doing the right thing in going after Peyton; he figures Manning to have another three years left in him, and he thinks the QB would make Denver an immediate contender.

Clark Judge agrees that Tim Tebow figures to be on the way out of town, and John Elway will be in damage-control mode if he doesn't land Peyton.

Bill Barnwell says that since the Bronco had a terrible point differential last season, they could easily be expected to have a poorer record in 2012 - unless they sign Peyton Manning.

Jim Nantz thinks Denver makes sense for Manning, and he figures Tim Tebow would be headed to Jacksonville if the Broncos are able to pull off the signing.

Jeff Legwold considers some of the smaller running back prospects the Broncos could be interested in.

Brady Quinn and Russ Hochstein are among 66 current and former NFL players spending a week attending business seminars at Harvard and Northwestern.

Trimmings

The league took away large chunks of cap space from Dallas ($10M) and Washington ($36M) for having frontloaded several contracts for last year's uncapped season; apparently the NFLPA had to sign off on the punishment. Without it, the 2012 cap was going to be significantly lower than it had been last season. Mike Freeman sees the punishment as more proof that Roger Goodell comes down hard on all miscreants - not just players.

Saints owner Tom Benson and coach Sean Payton met with the Commish yesterday to discuss their part in the bounty scandal.

San Francisco signed Randy Moss to a one-year deal after coach Jim Harbaugh threw passes to him in a workout; Alex Smith says he is happy with the three-year deal the Niners offered, and an agreement is just a matter of ironing out details; Doug Farrar, Matt Bowen, and Jason Cole analyze the Moss signing.

WR Marques Colston and the Saints are trying to finalize a long-term deal; the Steelers placed a first-round tender on WR Mike Wallace, as expected.

Houston released QB Matt Leinart and shockingly cut RT Eric Winston; Khaled Elsayed reacts with stunned disbelief.

Arizona cut LT Levi Brown, whom they took fifth overall in the 2007 Draft.

Washington released safety O.J. Atogwe a year after signing him (the Broncos had courted him last offseason); they also cut FB Mike Sellers.

San Diego tendered KR Richard Goodman and LS Mike Windt; the team is not expected to pursue any big-name free agents.

Oakland will cut TE Kevin Boss and are still expected to cut LB Kam Wimbley, even if they'll still owe him $6.5M this season; Kansas City tendered LB Jovan Belcher.

The Jets re-signed DT Sione Pouha to a three-year deal; the Lions restructured the contracts of QB Matthew Stafford, DT Ndumukong Suh, and WR Nate Burleson; Minnesota re-signed QB Sage Rosenfels.

As PK had suggested in his MMQB, Colts WR Pierre Garcon is expected to test the free agent waters.

Word is the Bucs have emerged as a potential top suitor for WR Vincent Jackson.

Scrapple

Here's a handy free agency FAQ from the league which covers the deadlines and rules of the period.

Mike Lombardi reminds us that there tend to be no bargains in the early days of free agency.

Bill Barnwell lists the teams he thinks should spend only a little bit in free agency.

Doug Farrar evaluates the biggest names among offensive and defensive free agents.

Eric Edholm glances over the biggest names about to hit free agency.

Bucky Brooks and Khalid Elsayed list their all-free-agency teams.

Clark Judge thinks Mario Williams is the ultimate 2012 free agent, over Manning.

Wes Bunting sees in A&M prospect Ryan Tannehill a potential franchise quarterback.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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