Broncos meet with Peyton Manning

The San Francisco 49ers have emerged as a late contender in the
Peyton Manning sweepstakes on Friday, according to an ESPN
report.

According to ESPN, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive
coordinator Greg Roman watched Manning throw at Duke on Tuesday
night. They were impressed enough to send the team doctor to Duke
the next day to conduct a physical on Manning.

The Niners, who have been working diligently to extend
quarterback Alex Smith’s contract, could be a sleeper team to sign
Manning, who is planning to conduct a private workout for Broncos
brass on Friday.

Broncos executive vice president of football operations John
Elway and head coach John Fox boarded a flight bound for
Raleigh-Durham Airport, where they will take a first-hand look at
the four-time MVP on the nearby Duke University campus, according
to NFL Network.

The two reportedly were joined by Broncos general manager Brian
Xanders, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, quarterbacks coach Adam
Gase and some of the team’s medical personnel, who will be
interested to see how far Manning has come in his recovery from the
four neck surgeries that sidelined him for the entire 2011
season.

According to The Denver Post, the Broncos hope to bring Manning
back to Denver with them, offering the star quarterback a deal
worth roughly $60 million over five years, including a guaranteed
$30 million.

But Manning is expected to follow up the Denver workout by
conducting a similar session for the Tennessee Titans, NFL Network
reported. No date has been set for the Titans’ workout, according
to the report.

News of the private sessions came as multiple reports indicated
the Miami Dolphins were out of the race for the former Indianapolis
signal caller.

Multiple sources claimed Manning called the Dolphins personally
Thursday to confirm he would not be relocating to Florida,
according to the NFL Network. The Dolphins reportedly were already
seeking other options at quarterback, with plans to sit down with
Green Bay Packers backup Matt Flynn in the next day or so.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals — the only other team still
believed to be in the Manning hunt — face a difficult decision
Friday with a $7 million roster bonus looming that would see the
team retain quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Arizona has until 4:00pm ET to either lock up Kolb, who they
acquired last season from Philadelphia in exchange for defensive
back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick, or
decide to let him go.

Manning, meanwhile, will continue to evaluate his options as
Denver and Tennessee lead the pursuit of the 11-time Pro
Bowler.

Manning’s mentor, current Duke head coach David Cutcliffe,
issued his own vote of confidence for the rehabbing quarterback,
who turns 36 on March 24.

“It’s incredible how much progress he’s made in throwing the
football,” Cutcliffe told The Tennessean Thursday.

“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.”

Manning is looking for his second NFL destination after spending
his entire 14-year career in Indianapolis.