March 16, 2012
Where's Waldo ... er, Manning now?
By Bill Lankhof, QMI Agency
TORONTO - He’s here. He’s there. He’s everywhere and, as Peyton Manning played Where’s Waldo for another day with the NFL, he’s nowhere.
One more team is in; another is out. The Titans remain front-runners with Bud Adams’ offer of a lifetime contract. But, coming from a 89-year-old guy, Manning might want to clarify who’s “lifetime” we’re talking about here.
Friday’s adventures began with the Broncos loading everyone short of the team mascot on a private plane headed for North Carolina to watch Manning work out at Duke University.
This was perceived in the media as the strongest signal yet of progress between the Broncos and Manning. Let’s just say that, unlike two other teams, they hadn’t yet been sacked.
Manning’s officials Friday informed Arizona he won’t be coming — much to the delight of nobody there, except Kevin Kolb. He got the $7 million option bonus he was due if he was still on the roster at 4 p.m. Friday. The Cardinals aren’t likely to walk away from that kind of investment, so Kolb gets another shot at the No. 1 job.
Miami? Gutted. Their attentions are now being turned to Matt Flynn
Question is, will Flynn — who spent Friday being wooed in Seattle — turn his attentions back to the Dolphins.
Flynn’s agent said the quarterback intends to fly to Miami this weekend. Meantime the Dolphins have to hope Flynn isn’t overwhelmed by a Seahawks’ offer and that he doesn’t mind being Miami’s Plan B.
Manning has three teams waiting: The Broncos and Tennessee everybody knew about, but the wild card in this are the sneaky San Francisco 49ers. There had been rumours another team was hiding in the bushes and it turns out that all the while head coach Jim Harbaugh was blowing kisses at incumbent QB Alex Smith, he was watching Manning.
Club officials were secretly dispatched to watch Manning throw Tuesday night at Duke University under the cover of darkness. It would explain why the club has been gushing in its praise of Smith — yet, dithered to sign its incumbent.
The 49ers have already given Manning a physical and ESPN reports they were “very impressed.”
The Broncos were scrambling to be equally impressed. The contingent that showed up at Duke Friday included John Elway, executive VP for football operations; head coach John Fox; offensive co-ordinator Mike McCoy; quarterback coach Adam Gase; general manager Brian Xanders; and a medical team. Elway posted a comment on Twitter, writing: ”He threw the ball great and looked very comfortable out there.”
Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who has worked with Manning recently, told The Tennessean of Nashville, that he expects the Broncos — like the 49ers — to be impressed. “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,” said Cutcliffe.
Oh, and finally, the addendum to the day comes from Miami. Turns out owner Stephen Ross already presented an offer to Flynn. It’s an offer that could make the Dolphins 0-for-2 — and you know things are going bad when you get out-glammed by Buffalo!
Seems management figured Flynn wanted to play in South Beach so much with so-called buddy and head coach Joe Philbin that they low-balled him. Flynn may decide he doesn’t need to swallow his pride. Maybe he decides with friends like that, the only way he’ll show up in Miami is in a Seahawks’ uniform — or, to personally relay his regrets. And, then, sit back and watch grown men cry.
THAT’S THE TICKET
Mario Williams is already paying off for the Bills. The club’s ticket office extended its Saturday hours to meet buyer demand. In the 24 hours since announcing the star defensive end’s signing the team said it had sold 1,000 new season tickets. More than 1,000 season ticket holders renewed subscriptions.
MOVE OVER MARIO
Linebacker Kamerion Wimbley is headed for the open market. The Raiders are releasing him rather than pay his $17.5 million salary. It means Wimbley becomes the best pass rusher left in free agency.
Suddenly a market that had cooled is hot again.
Former Bills DL Phil Hansen is running as a Republican for a Minnesota state senate seat ... Free agent offensive tackle Marcus McNeill spent Friday speaking with the Lions, who are uncertain whether longtime left tackle Jeff Backus will return. “I can tell you that Detroit made a very good impression,” said McNeill ... Jets signed Chaz Schilens from Oakland and will give him a chance to become the No. 2 receiver alongside Santonio Holmes ... The Falcons reached a three-year agreement with rush end John Abraham, who also got interest from the Titans and Broncos. Abraham has 54.5 sacks the past five seasons ... Carolina signed safety Haruki Nahamura, who will challenge Sherrod Martin for the starting job ... The Bengals lost guard Nate Livings to the Cowboys ... Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson stays with the Seahawks ... The Vikings, after releasing Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera, host free agent offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz Monday ... Broncos have scheduled a free agent visit for linebacker Geno Hayes, formerly of the Buccaneers, where he made 45 starts over three years ... Colts signed former Raven Tom Zbikowski, replacing Melvin Bullitt at safety.