By Adam Teicher, McClatchy Newspapers –
KANSAS CITY, MO. — Chairman Clark Hunt acknowledged Friday that the Chiefs are pursuing quarterback Peyton Manning, but they’re certainly not the only team.
Manning started what could become a free-agent tour Friday by meeting with Broncos officials in Denver. Manning was also scheduled to have meetings with officials from the Arizona Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins.
Kansas City might not yet be on Manning’s travel schedule, but the Chiefs intend to get in the game. Hunt said in an interview with the NBC Sports Channel that the Chiefs would eventually visit with Manning.
“He is somebody that we’ll talk to,” Hunt said in the interview. “There’s certainly going to be tremendous interest in Peyton Manning across the league. He’s one of the greatest players in the history of the league. He’s also an incredible person. We feel really good about the team we have in Kansas City going into the 2012 season, but we’ll look for any opportunity to improve and, of course, that includes Peyton Manning.
“I would think that he will be looking for the situation that fits him best. I don’t know how important money will be to him, but I’m sure it will be part of the equation. But he’s going to be looking for an environment that he’s comfortable in.”
Other teams may eventually get to meet with Manning, who this week was released by Indianapolis, the only team he played for in his 14 NFL seasons. Manning has no shortage of teams interested in him even though he will turn 36 later this month and missed all of last season because of a neck ailment and isn’t assured of returning to play as the same Peyton Manning who was the NFL’s only four-time Most Valuable Player.
The Colts released him last week rather than pay him a $28 million bonus he would have been due.
Manning’s first stop was with the Broncos, a longtime rival of the Chiefs in the AFC West. The Broncos won the division last season with an 8-8 record and beat Pittsburgh in their first-round playoff game but evidently are looking for an upgrade over Tim Tebow at quarterback.
The Denver Post reported that the Broncos sent a plane to pick up Manning from his offseason home near Miami. It stopped in Stillwater, Okla., where Broncos president John Elway, general manager Brian Xanders and coach John Fox were at the Oklahoma State pro day.
The group then continued on to Denver.
The field of potential suitors for Manning thinned a bit on Friday as Washington reportedly agreed to trade a bevy of draft picks to the Rams for the second overall pick in this year’s draft. Washington probably will take a quarterback with that second pick.
Meanwhile, the Jets decided to pass on Manning, instead extended quarterback Mark Sanchez’s contract by three seasons.
Seattle and Tennessee are other teams that are reportedly interested in Manning.