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?
Cleveland hadn't really been mentioned as a possible suitor, but just to make sure, GM Tom Heckert says the Browns are not interested in Manning. He also acknowledges that he's spoken with the Rams about the #2 pick and RG3.
Clark Judge says Manning should make his decision quickly so that he can turn around and start recruiting some fellow free agents to join him. Plus, he sees the Jets as the worst possible destination for Peyton.
In case you forgot this is all about straight cash, the Colts didn't even wait for the body to cool before hawking Manning #18 memorabilia.
Why Manning could come to Denver
Mike Klis sees the same reasoning we do that a Peyton/Broncos marriage makes sense.
Jeff Legwold says the Broncos' interest is legit, and he thinks Denver is at least as much a fit for Peyton as any of the other possible destinations. Plus, he says this pursuit makes clear what we've known all along - that John Elway isn't that enamored with Tim Tebow.
Gee, even ESPN's stupid Total QBR says Manning is a better QB than Tebow. Go figure.
Why he's likely to head elsewhere
The self-serving Woody Paige claims the Broncos have no chance at Peyton, and that since Manning is seeking an "immediate SB contender" Miami makes the most sense. He also continues to beat the hilarious "Manning and Tebow share respresentation" drum, makes the inane leap that John Fox wouldn't want to run a Manning offense, and tops it all off by mentioning that Peyton Hillis wants back to Denver. Look, reasonable arguments can certainly be made that other teams would make more sense for Manning - just see the subsequent columns here from Tanier and Benoit. Chalking the decision up to agents and John Fox is pure nonsense.
Mike Tanier thinks Tebowmania will scare him off, and that Seattle makes the most sense.
Andy Benoit says Denver's defense and wide receiver corps are not of a standard worthy of Peyton; he sees Arizona as the best fit.
Christmas Ape thinks the Tebowmaniacs would take Manning out Nancy Kerrigan-style.
Johns Elway and Fox will both be at Oklahoma State's pro day today, where WR Justin Blackmon, QB Brandon Weeden, and several other pro prospects will be showing their stuff.
Klis expects Denver to add a veteran safety, and he lists a few options.
Gregg Williams is reportedly cooperating with the league's investigation, as if he has any choice.
Former Saints DE Anthony Hargrove admits having made a late hit on Brett Favre in the '09 NFC title game but claims not to have received a bounty for doing so.
Ex-Bills safety Coy Wire says the Williams-coached Bills had a bounty system but it was run solely by players.
Matt Yoder is tired of all the righteous hyperbole.
San Diego signed LB Demorrio Williams, whom KC had cut earlier in the week.
Carson Palmer restructured his contract to give Oakland some cap relief, Aaron Curry is likely to do the same, and the status of LB Kam Wimbley is still up in the air.
Eli Manning restructured his deal to give the Giants a bit more 2012 cap room.
Brandon Lloyd is so desperate to join the Pats that he's already hinting at taking less money to do so.
Cortland Finnegan is trying to recruit Vincent Jackson to sign in tandem with him someplace, potentially Tampa Bay.
John Clayton says the lower franchise tag values of the new CBA have given teams significant leverage; chalk another one up for ownership.
Bill Barnwell looks for 2011 free agents to compare to this year's crop, and he lists the teams that cannot spend big in free agency due to either a need to lock up incumbent players or a lack of cap room.
Bucky Brooks thinks LSU DT Michael Brockers and ASU LB Vontaze Burfict must shine at their pro days to compensate for their poor performances in Indy; Jonathan Bales evaluates Clemson DT Brandon Thompson.
In his Walkthrough column, Mike Tanier ranks the best running backs in Cowboys and Giants history, and he figures the sack numbers of Lions DE Cliff Avril are due for a drop.