|Are the Cards a sleeper to make Peyton the next Warner? (Getty Images)|
The status of Peyton Manning with the Colts is absolutely up in the air, and a lot depends on the March 8 deadline for Indy to pick up his $28 million option.
While there's been some chatter that the Colts and Manning's camp discussed an extension of that deadline recently, CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported on Sunday's The NFL Today that it's not the case. He also reported that the decision on Manning's option will be made by owner Jim Irsay (not the new general manager) and that there's a darkhorse possibility to land Manning if he doesn't end up back with the Colts: the Arizona Cardinals.
"Jim Irsay in interviewing general manager candidates has told them he will make the decision whether Peyton Manning is back," Casserly reported Sunday. "He will not put that on the new general manager. Right now there have been absolutely no discussions according to the Manning camp between Manning and Irsay about extending that deadline. In fact, it would make no sense to me for Manning to agree to that. Why give up the opportunity to talk to other teams?
"One team to watch? The Arizona Cardinals. They can get out of the Kevin Kolb contract and also Ken Whisenhunt's been down this road before. A veteran quarterback coming in at the end of his career? Kurt Warner."
The Cardinals would be a shock to land Manning, if only because they haven't been discussed as a landing spot. But a healthy Manning would be an instant upgrade for Arizona and probably let them leapfrog the 49ers as NFC West favorites in 2012.
As for the extension talks, there's some thought that language in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement wouldn't even allow an extension of the option deadline.
Beside that point, Casserly's spot on: there's really no benefit for Manning to give the Colts a deadline, especially if they're set on selecting Andrew Luck in April's draft anyway.
The long and short of it is this: Manning's situation isn't going to simply go away between now and the deadline for the Colts to make a decision on his future in Indianapolis and even with the playoffs going on, it's going to remain a dominant NFL storyline.
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