Peyton Manning could be close to choosing his next landing spot after just two stops on his free-agent tour, ESPN reported Sunday.
Citing sources close to Manning and a competing executive, the report put the Denver Broncos in the lead over Arizona and said Miami and Seattle might not even get the chance to arrange meetings with Manning.
One source, said to have spoken with Manning before his visit to the Cardinals, told ESPN "his gut is that Manning is leaning toward Denver."
The Cardinals did get a visit, though, as Manning was in town Saturday night and remained in the Phoenix area Sunday, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.
The Broncos are in better financial position to strike immediately with nearly $30 million of salary cap space. The Cardinals are currently over the projected cap of $120.6 million, but could rework contract and release offensive tackle Levi Brown, who has a 2012 cap number of nearly $17 million, to free as much as $23 million, according to team sources.
A Cardinals team source told ESPN that Arizona would not go out without a fight and was prepared to make an aggressive push.
The Broncos won the AFC West with an 8-8 record and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs under quarterback Tim Tebow last year. Tebow went on an electric run, in which his late-game dramatics won over fans, but critics have questioned his arm strength.
If Denver lands Manning, Tebow would be traded, with the Jacksonville Jaguars in line to acquire him, a source told Pro Football Network.
The Cardinals finished the season strong, winning seven of their last nine to finish 8-8 after a 1-6 start. The presence of six-time Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald has also been considered a drawing card for the 36-year-old quarterback.
Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts in a tearful press conference and flew from Miami to Denver two days later.
He has been said to favor remaining in the AFC, but hasn't ruled out a conference switch, according to reports.
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