Will Manning swim with the Dolphins?

The Miami Dolphins, for the moment, appear to be quarterback Peyton Manning's favoured destination....

The Miami Dolphins, for the moment, appear to be quarterback Peyton Manning's favoured destination. (REUTERS)

Bill Lankhof, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:08 PM ET

Peyton Manning isn’t going to keep the world waiting for long.

Now that he is a free agent, teams can admit their interest without fear of tampering, and evidently there has been nobody busier in trying to get him a new home than Ma Bell.

Up to a dozen teams have inquired whether Manning would be interested in joining them, and multiple reporters indicate he will make a decision “‘within the next week.”

It is expected that team will be in the AFC for two reasons: First, the Manning brothers would prefer not to compete for the same conference and division titles. Second, they would like to have a chance to play against each other in a Super Bowl.

That likely scuttles any idea the Redskins might have had of signing Peyton. “A couple of different sources inside the organization have told me that Manning’s camp made it pretty clear to Redskins officials he doesn’t want to come here,” ESPN’s Chris Russell reported. “There’s lots of reasons for that. His brother Eli, the colder weather, the whole situation down in Miami.”

Many analysts believe the Dolphins are the early-line favourites to sign Manning.

Picking a team quickly is important, and not just because of the media maelstrom surrounding him. Teams need to know what their cap implications will be going into free agency later this month and having Peyton on the payroll will have huge ramifications. Furthermore, any team signing Manning would be able to use him to lure free agents — one of the most likely being Reggie Wayne.

One team known to have already contacted Manning’s representatives are the Chiefs. Head coach Romeo Crennl actually dodged a tampering bullet a few weeks ago when he said the club would be “crazy” not to consider signing Manning.

The Dolphins could be looking at a Manning-Wayne combo signing. Manning already has a home in Florida and owner Stephen Ross could barely restrain his enthusiasm a few months ago when it became apparent Manning would become available.

There had been indications that new head coach Joe Philbin wanted to dip into the free agent market and sign Matt Flynn. The two spent four years together in Green Bay and Flynn has shown glimpses that he could be a very good quarterback in Philbin’s system.

But, according to news reports out of Miami, what Philbin thinks might not matter much in this case. Ross is believed be telling general manager Jeff Ireland that the only quarterback who matters right now is Manning.

Yahoo Sports reports that the Dolphins have yet to express even a remote interest in Flynn.

The reason? All of the focus in Miami is on signing Peyton Manning.

One club to indicate Manning is a no-go are the Browns. The disinterest is likely mutual. Browns GM Tom Heckert said, “(it) probably (is) not a direction we’re going to go ... We will not go crazy in free agency,”

Considering Manning, now 36, needs a team that can win in the near future, the Browns likely wouldn’t have been on his list of potential new homes anyway.

ROBERT WHO?

Speaking of quarterbacks, the Browns may be shying away from trading up to the No. 2 draft slot to get Robert Griffin III. Reports in the Cleveland Plain Dealer seem to indicate that management is confident Colt McCoy will improve if they surround him with better players.

Management also came away impressed with Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden at the combines. They could be thinking about Tannehill at No. 4, or Weeden at No. 22, where the Browns have the Falcons’ first-round pick. Heckert also said there’s a chance the Browns will trade down from No. 4 to get extra picks.

The Buccaneers get a chance to put their money where their mouth is.

The club, after years of open cap space, said that it would spend this year — and Cortland Finnegan and Vincent Jackson are willing to let them double their pleasure.

The two are lobbying to join the Bucs as a package deal. Tampa definitely could use an upgrade at the receiver spot where they haven’t been able to stretch the field.

Meantime, the secondary is in flux. Ronde Barber is considering retirement. Even if he resigned, age has started to reduce his effectiveness. On the other side, Aqib Talib’s legal turmoils, likely will culminate in at least a league suspension, if not prison.

QUICK HITS

Reports out of New Orleans say Drew Brees will refuse to sign his 2012 franchise tender and will skip next month’s off-season workouts as he tries to leverage a new multi-year deal ... Eli Manning has restructured his contract providing the Giants with almost $7 million in cap room. The Giants, who were $9 million over the cap, are expected to create more cap space by reworking Brandon Jacobs‘ contract. He is set to make $4.4 million in 2012 season, but has indicated he’ll take a pay cut to stay with the club ... The Falcons have re-signed back-up running back Jason Snelling, running back Antone Smith and tight end Michael Palmer ... The Vikings would like to re-sign free agent QB Sage Rosenfels ... The Panthers have waived K Adi Kunalic ... Linebacker Demorrio Williams left the Chiefs Wednesday and signed Thursday with the Chargers ... Andre Johnson has reworked his contract, taking most of his $6.5 million base salary as a bonus, to give the Texans more cap room to re-sign Mario Williams.

 


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