Former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning may have put himself out of the Miami Dolphins' reach this weekend. Manning visited the Arizona Cardinals following a Friday visit to the Denver Broncos, and those two teams are reportedly the favorites to land the 4-time MVP.
Manning could still talk to Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, but he is not expected to visit Dolphins facilities at this time. According to ESPN, Manning probably will not announce his intentions by Tuesday at 4 pm, the official start of the NFL's free agency period.
How did the Dolphins go from one of the favorites to sign Manning to being on the outside looking in? For starters, it is still not entirely clear who ESPN's sources are, which should give readers pause.
As we mentioned last week, free agents of Manning's caliber generate so much media interest that it is often hard to tell which sources are legit and which are not, even for seasoned reporters receiving conflicting information.
But clinging to the hope that ESPN's sources are wrong is not exactly a reassuring sign for Dolfans, long beleaguered by the franchise's chain of quarterbacks that have failed to exorcise the ghost of Dan Marino.
For what its worth, the Miami Herald reported Monday that the team has "what they believe is a strong presentation and are hopeful of making it to Manning early this week." In a separate report, a few team officials told the Herald that they believe the Dolphins are still in a position to sign Manning.
The team covets Manning so much that it might not require Manning to throw in front of Dolphins officials before they make a contract offer. ESPN has reported that Manning has "extensive quality video" showing him throwing in recent workouts.
Manning is rehabilitating following spinal fusion surgery. Some NFL observers are worried Manning will not be able to throw with the same zip and accuracy as he did before neck injuries caused him to miss the entire 2011 season.
But if the Dolphins cannot sign Manning, they will go after Green Bay backup Matt Flynn, who will become a free agent on Tuesday. Cleveland and Seattle are also expected to target Flynn, who played for Philbin when he was the Packers' offensive coordinator.