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Posted on: March 8, 2012 10:19 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 3:29 pm
 

Up to 12 teams contacted Peyton Manning Wednesday

So ... many ... choices ... (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Wednesday, the Colts released Peyton Manning, a sentence that still seems weird to write.

Also on Wednesday, the Manning-to-Team-X rumor mill got chugging along nicely. It's believed that as many as a dozen NFL teams (12!) have been in contact with Manning's camp, or Manning's agent Tom Condon. However, CBSSports.com's NFL Insider Mike Freeman reported Thursday morning that some folks believe Manning's already narrowed his list. Freeman points to the Dolphins, Redskins and ... Broncos as the short list.

Peyton's Free Agency

But for the sake of really figuring out who's in play, let's break down the teams that could've/should've/might've contacted Manning on Wednesday. Follow the parenthesis for the full count.

49ers (X) general manager Trent Baalke told everyone that the 49ers are not interested in Manning. That doesn't technically preclude any contact on their part, but it does point to a low interest level.

Despite the presence of Tebowmania, the Broncos (1) are absolutely interested in Manning. See: Freeman's report, as well as a report from Mike Klis of The Denver Post Wednesday, in which Klis says the Broncos will check in with Manning but believes they will likely stick with Tebow. That's probably more as a result of striking out on Manning, but as Freeman notes, maybe they're in play after all.  

The Dolphins (2) are quite obviously interested. Our buddy Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post believes the Dolphins are in the pole position to land Manning. And there's good reason to think Volin is right, the least of which is that he's in South Beach right now. (Well, we assume he's still there.) Adding to the pressure of Miami, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat Twitter account are all recruiting/harassing Peyton.

Speaking of the AFC East, the Jets (3) are another divisional team purportedly in hot pursuit of Manning. Or purportedly "split" about whether or not they want to chase Manning. They do. They know it. The problem? They just don't think they can actually get him, so they're trying to play it cool.

The most obvious suitor? The Washington Redskins (4), who essentially feel like they're already drunk-dialing Condon to talk about Manning. What? That counts as an "aggressive" pursuit of a free agent.

Or maybe the Seahawks (5) are the most aggressive team ... only they're going about it quietly. Albert Breer of the NFL Network reported they'd be the first team on the phone with Peyton Wednesday, and Peter King and Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated both believe John Schneider and Pete Carroll would be in hot pursuit of Manning. It's interesting, as Doug Farrar of Shutdown Corner notes, because Schneider said at the combine that he wasn't interested in "passing camp" quarterbacks.

Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN named a couple additional teams as well. Most notably, he cited the Chiefs (6) as a suitor for Manning. They make a lot of sense. Schefter also listed the Titans (7) as a team that contacted Manning, but that goes contrary to what they said they'd do. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean also reports that the Titans have not (6) had contact with Manning.

That's six teams, which is a lot. And yes, I'm ignoring the Titans. I'm also ignoring the Texans, who were already ruled out by King. So who are the other six teams?

The Cardinals (7) are a team that we haven't mentioned yet, but they're still my favorite to land Manning. They have a limited window to land Manning because of the Kevin Kolb roster bonus due on March 17, and they can't be too public about their pursuit of Manning (well, Darnell Dockett can). But maybe they don't have to be public about anything: Manning has reportedly put out his own "feelers" to talk with the Cards. It probably has nothing to do with Larry Fitzgerald.

Then there's a slew of cruddy teams that we should add off the bat: the Browns (8), the Bills (9) and the Jaguars (10) are all teams with quarterbacks. But they're also teams with quarterbacks who are not Peyton Manning. And if the respective GMs of those clubs didn't at least call and say "Hey, would he be interested in playing in our city for our team?" then they should be jailed for negligence.

So we need a pair of sleepers now. Let's rule out the rest of the AFC; for one reason or another, everyone has a quarterback. Let's also rule out the NFC East. We've already included the NFC West, sans the Rams. Only one team from the NFC South and the NFC North needs a quarterback.

So only two teams remain: the Vikings (11) and the Buccaneers (12). OK, Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman are both recent first-round picks, but this is Peyton Manning we're talking about. They'd be nuts not to at least inquire through backchannels if there was any possible interest.

If you think I missed someone, leave em in the comments. Or argue why your team deserves Manning.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 10:34 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:34 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency Previews: AFC North

Can Baltimore do enough this offseason to stay ahead of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Baltimore Ravens

In 2011, for the fourth time in John Harbaugh's four years as head coach, the Ravens made the playoffs, this time sweeping the Steelers and winning the AFC North in the process. But this team isn't without issues -- questions about Joe Flacco and the passing game linger, the defensive leaders are old, and fans still aren't sold on Harbaugh, especially in big games. Despite the concerns, Baltimore is annually one of the NFL's best teams, thanks largely to general manager Ozzie Newsome's keen ability to put together a roster. 

Free agents of note
The team wisely franchised its best offensive weapon, running back Ray Rice, and now maybe Harbaugh can convince coordinator Cam Cameron to actually use him … Center Matt Birk apparently won't retire this offseason and he'll meet with the team soon to talk about a new deal … That holds for guard Ben Grubbs, too, considered Baltimore's best offensive lineman. The two sides have spoken about a long-term contract but progress has been slow … Linebacker Jarret Johnson might be the Ravens' most underrated defender. If he doesn't return, Jets head coach Rex Ryan is reportedly interested in bringing him to New York … Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams are restricted free agents but the former could draw some interest even if he receives a first-round tender.

Needs
Flacco was sacked 31 times last season, a career low, but the offensive line is still an issue. They signed Bryant McKinnie off the street to play left tackle and if Grubbs hits free agency, the left side will be a liability.

In the last two offseasons, Baltimore brought in T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Lee Evans and neither impressed. Derrick Mason was Flacco's security blanket for his first three seasons, and now that distinction has fallen to Anquan Boldin (and you could even argue Ray Rice). While Torrey Smith made progress his rookie season, Baltimore needs a quality third receiver to go with their young, emerging tight ends, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta.

Targets
Newsome doesn't look to be a big player in free agency because of salary-cap limitations, but Mike Wallace makes a ton of sense if the asking price is a low first-rounder. And while they won't be able to afford guard Carl Nicks, Pro Football Focus suggests that Evan Mathis could be an affordable alternative should Grubbs get away and Mathis doesn't return to Philly.

Cincinnati Bengals

The 2011 Bengals took everyone by surprise, and that includes head coach Marvin Lewis, who probably had no idea what to expect when he re-upped in January, jettisoned Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, and watched as Carson Palmer sat out the season before eventually being traded. Cincy drafted a big-play wideout, a smart, accurate quarterback, started both and ended up in the playoffs. Go figure. If the Bengals are to improve in Year 2, they'll need to upgrade the players around Andy Dalton.

Free agents of note
Running back Cedric Benson made the most of a second chance in Cincy but he won't be back … Wide receiver Jerome Simpson pleaded guilty to drug charges recently and his NFL future is uncertain … Guard Bobbie Williams will likely be replaced and Pacman Jones probably won't be re-signed either … The Bengals would like to keep defensive ends Jonathan Fanene and Frostee Rucker … They franchised kicker Mike Nugent.

Needs
A.J. Green was a godsend but Simpson's legal trouble and Andre Caldwell's inconsistency means that Dalton could use another outside threat. Same holds for the running backs. Bernard Scott will get more carries as a result Benson's departure, but he's not an every-down back (is anybody in today's NFL?). Either way, there isn't much depth behind him unless you think Brian Leonard is a viable second option. With Williams' departure, there's a need at right guard, too.

Targets
The Bengals have some $60 million in cap space and they could address a whole heap of needs … except they rarely go big in free agency. So look for them to focus on less expensive, second-tier players. PFF mentioned Jerricho Cotchery, and Eddie Royal would make sense, too. Effective running backs can be had for cheap, and if none are available before the draft, the Bengals could find one in the later rounds.

Cleveland Browns

Pat Shurmur's first season was a forgettable one (and it's a good bet that, thanks to James Harrison, Colt McCoy has already forgotten it). There were allegations that the offense was too predictable, but this is what happens when a second-year quarterback is without his Pro Bowl running back, doesn't have a go-to receiver, and the offense line struggles to keep him upright. Depending on what happens in free agency and the draft, McCoy's window might already be closed.

Free agents of note
Madden curse victim Peyton Hillis wasn't franchised and has since been reduced to publicly stating that he'd take a hometown discount to stay in Cleveland (and he has no plans to join the CIA) … However, the Browns did franchise 37-year-old kicker Phil Dawson.

Needs
After a promising rookie season, McCoy regressed in Year 2, but again, that wasn't entirely his fault. That said, this is the NFL and second and third chances are rarely granted because of ill-timed misfortune. McCoy should get an opportunity to compete for the starting job but he won't head into training camp with his name atop the depth chart.

Hillis was a flake in 2011 and the Browns can't trust him to show up from one week to the next. Even if he returns on the cheap, they'll need depth behind him.

Greg Little was the team's second-round pick in 2011 but he's raw. He struggled with dropped passes as a rookie but the bigger issue is that Cleveland didn't have a legitimate deep threat.

Targets
There's the possibility that Cleveland makes a move for Robert Griffin III, and even if that doesn't happen, if the Cardinals release Kevin Kolb, the Browns would certainly be interested. Matt Flynn is also a possibility should Peyton Manning end up in Miami.

Whether through the draft or free agency, the Browns haveto find a wideout. Look what A.J. Green did for the Bengals if you need proof for why they're important. Where they find said wideout is a different story. We can't imagine Vincent Jackson would want to come to Cleveland with the QB situation unsettled, but the Browns have two first-rounders. If they don't have to mortgage them both to get RG3, they could address other needs -- including WR -- in Round 1.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Free agents of note
Gone are many of the players responsible for the Steelers' three Super Bowl appearances since 2005: Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, James Farrior, Bryant McFadden and Chris Kemoeatu were all released. Backup defensive tackle Chris Hoke retired, and left tackle Max Starks, who came off his couch to bolster the o-line midway through the '11 season, won't be re-signed. With Mike Wallace a restricted free agent, the Steelers have two wideouts currently under contract (Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders) … Jerricho Cotchery would like to return -- and the team wants him back -- but they'll need to so some salary-cap gymnastics to make it happen … Third-down back Mewelde Moore could return but he's not a priority … Cornerback William Gay was a solid starter but he excels as a nickel back. Again: the cap could determine if he's back … Starting guards Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster are both restricted free agents.

Needs
If Willie Colon can stay healthy, the Steelers should be set at tackle (second-year player Marcus Gilbert will move to the left side in 2012). And with Maurkice Pouncey at center and either Foster or Legursky at right guard, the only gaping hole will be at left guard (which was pretty much the case when Kemoeatu was still with the team).

With Ward and Cotchery now free agents and Wallace a possible target for WR-needy teams, the Steelers need to find depth behind third-year players Brown and Sanders.

Farrior's age (37) and salary necessitated his departure but now Pittsburgh needs to find their next young menacing linebacker to replace him. Larry Foote can serve as the bridge to whomever will end up playing alongside Lawrence Timmons.

There was speculation that nose tackle Casey Hampton could become a cap casualty but he's currently with the team. Still, with Hoke and Smith's departure, Pittsburgh could stand to add some warm bodies along the defensive line.

Targets
Typically, the Steelers don't make many splashy free-agent signings and that'll again be the case this offseason. They'd love to have Cotchery back, as well as find ways to re-sign Moore and possibly Gay (not to mention keep Wallace). Expect them to target an offensive lineman, linebacker or defensive lineman in the early rounds of the draft.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 8:41 pm
 

Report: Broncos to gauge chances with Manning

Tebowmania isn't enough to keep Denver from inquiring about Manning. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Cardinals, Dolphins and Redskins are the early favorites for Peyton Manning's services, but there are other teams in the running, too. The Jets and Seahawks have expressed interest, and the Broncos, fresh off a season's worth of Tebowmania, could do so as well.

Manning era ends in Indy
Details via the Denver Post's Mike Klis:

"The Broncos are expected to place a phone call to Manning's agent, Tom Condon, to gauge their chances, according to an NFL source close to the situation. If Manning's contract can be structured so that the team would be protected in case Manning's troublesome neck becomes an issue, the Broncos could well be players."

Put differently: we were right to be skeptical when John Elway and John Fox proclaimed after the 2011 season that Tim Tebow would head into training camp as Denver's starter. That could still hold, of course -- landing Manning is a longshot, particularly given Fox's run-run-run-punt offensive philosophy.

And the other free-agent QB options aren't particularly appealing: names like Matt Flynn, Chad Henne, and Jason Campbell are either unproven or not an upgrade over Tebow. Not only that, what quarterback looking to start would step in front of the buzz saw that is Tebow's rabid fan base? They ran Orton out of the lineup after a 1-4 start, and eventually out of town. Plus, it would mean revamping the offense again, something that would only make sense if the Broncos landed someone like, say, Manning.

Klis points to two other reasons why Manning-to-Mile High doesn't seem likely:
His age, he turns 36 later this month, coupled with the fact he didn't play last year because of multiple neck surgeries makes him an enormous risk.

And the risk will be financially huge by the time Mike Shanahan's Washington Redskins, as well as the Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals and possibly the Kansas City Chiefs engage in a bidding war.

Another reason the Broncos might not get in a serious bidding war would be the presence of Tebow. By wobble or by will, Tebow took the worst team in football — and that's exactly what their 7-24 record dating back to Nov. 1, 2009 made the Broncos, the NFL's worst team during that span — and helped lead them to the playoffs and a first-round upset of Pittsburgh this past season.
Whatever your thoughts on Tebow, prototypical NFL quarterback, there's no denying what he helped the Broncos accomplish last season. That, and tepid interest from Manning as other teams clamor for his services, means that Tebow's job is safe … for now.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:37 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:19 pm
 

Luck, Colts could be better than we think in '12

Can the Colts draw inspriation from what other team's have done with young QBs? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Colts and Peyton Manning are done. Which means that the Andrew Luck era began unofficially Wednesday afternoon (assuming, of course, Robert Griffin III doesn't surge to the top of Indy's draft board in the coming weeks). The knee-jerk reaction is to think that a post-Manning Indianapolis will look like something out of "The Book of Eli" -- an apocalyptic NFL wasteland with no hope of salvation anytime soon. Except that there are recent examples from around the league that should give the Colts and their fans hope. (We talked about it in the most recent Pick-6 Podcast, embedded below for your convenience.)


At its most basic, success with a young quarterback comes down to some combination of: a) a good defense, b) a strong special teams, c) a reliable running game, and, oh, it doesn't hurt if said young quarterback is d) mature -- both mentally and physically -- beyond his years.

As it stands, the Colts, should they draft Luck, will have d). It's up to owner Jim Irsay, new GM Ryan Grigson, and new head coach Chuck Pagano to take care of a)-c).  It's a tall order, for sure, but not impossible. Here are five examples that should give the Colts and Luck hope in 2012:

1. Baltimore Ravens

Pagano comes to Indy after serving as the Ravens' defensive coordinator last season. So he knows first-hand just how important a good defense can be for a young quarterback -- particularly one whose offensive coordinator doesn't seem to understand the downfalls of airing it out 50 times a game when the team's best player sits on the bench.

Luckily, Pagano hired Bruce Arians as his coordinator. Arians was Peyton Manning's first quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis, and he spent the last five seasons as Ben Roethlisberger's OC in Pittsburgh. He knows something about bringing along a young, talented quarterback.

Manning era ends in Indy
"[Arians] understands how to develop quarterbacks, especially young quarterbacks," Pagano told CBSSports.com in Indianapolis during Super Bowl week. "Bruce and I go back a long time. His philosophy matches our philosophy, and the pieces we're going to put around him [match] his passion and energy. He's a brilliant guy, he thinks outside the box so I feel really fortunate that Bruce is with us." 

The first order of business, however, is getting the defense in order. The Colts re-signed Robert Mathis, but appear set to cut Dwight Freeney loose for salary-cap reasons. Pagano will install a 3-4 defense which will replace the soft Cover-2 the team had been running for years. Even a mediocre defense to go along with something resembling a running game would go a long way in making Luck's rookie season manageable.

The last time the Colts started a rookie quarterback was in 1998 after they drafted Manning first overall. The year before, Indy ranked 23rd in total efficiency, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. The offense was 24th, the defense 25th and special teams 25th. In 2011, without Manning, the Colts were similarly awful: 31st overall, 27th in offense, 27th in defense, and 31st in special teams.

Of course, Manning was 3-13 as a rookie but his defense didn't do him any favors: they ranked 28th in '98. If Pagano can cobble together a defense and couple that with a decent running game, Luck's transition to NFL quarterback could go much smoother than conventional wisdom currently suggests.

2. Atlanta Falcons

In 2007, Michael Vick was in a heap of trouble and out of football, first-year Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino quit after 13 games to take the Arkansas job, and the starting quarterbacks that season included Joey Harrington, Chris Redman and Byron Leftwich. It's a miracle they managed four wins.

In 2008, owner Arthur Blank hired Mike Smith and the team drafted Matt Ryan. They won 11 games, and Ryan threw for 3,440 yards (61 percent completion rate), 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

In the Falcons' case, the one-year turnaround wasn't because the defense drastically improved. The unit was 28th in '07 and 25th in '08 -- instead it was the … passing game, which was fourth behind the Chargers, Colts and Saints. Part of that was because then-Falcons OC Mike Mularkey put Ryan in positions to succeed. But it was also a function of Ryan exceeding everyone's expectations.

We talked to him in January 2009, shortly after his rookie season ended, and asked if the Falcons had eased him into the playbook.

"To my knowledge, we had the full offense in," he said. "… From the start, we had a bunch of different things in, and I had a good amount of responsibility at the line of scrimmage to do some different things. I think as the season went on, we found what we were as an offense. Because there were a bunch of new people working together and trying to find the rhythm of our offense."

While a stout defense and a reliable running game are a young QB's friends, ultimately, it comes down to assimilating a ton of information and making plays you're asked to make.

3. San Francisco 49ers

If there's a blueprint from which Pagano should work, it might be the 49ers. By the 2010 offseason, Alex Smith was roundly considered a bust. The 2005 first-overall pick had, at various points in his career, shared snaps with Trent Dilfer, Shaun Hill and Troy Smith, and San Francisco had never won more than eight games in Smith's six seasons heading into 2011. Then Jim Harbaugh replaced Mike Singletary as head coach and everything changed.

But it wasn't that Smith suddenly morphed into a franchise quarterback (it was the best season of his career but he was more game manager than late-game winner). The offense improved to 18th in 2011 from 24th the season before, but it was the defense and special teams that were the difference. The latter improved from 13th to third, and the latter went from 22nd to 2nd.

4. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals dumped chatty veterans (Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco) and were forced to find a new quarterback when Carson Palmer chose retirement over returning to Cincy. So the team took the draft's best wide receiver in Round 1 (A.J. Green), and landed their next franchise quarterback a round later (Andy Dalton).

Dalton was considered a heady player in college and that distinction followed him in the weeks and months leading up to the draft. Turns out, it was true. Like Ryan in Atlanta, Dalton not only knew where to go with the ball, he was accurate and timely with his throws. It's one thing to understand what the defense is trying to do; it's something else entirely for a rookie to actually do it with a blitzing linebacker in his face.

5. Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton wasn't the beneficiary of a good (or even slightly below average) defense and the Panthers, 2-14 the year before he arrived, still won six games. (They lost five games by seven points or less.) His success surprised everybody, even folks whose job it was to breakdown film for a living. Here's NFL Films' Greg Cosell in December 2011:

"What was remarkable about Newton was he demonstrated many of these traits of an NFL passer right away.  Beginning in Week 1 against Arizona, he read coverage, he knew where to go with the football, he was decisive and accurate. The next week he played the Super Bowl champion Packers and was truly impressive, showing NFL attributes beginning with poise and composure in the pocket. More importantly, he did not leave the pocket to run when the bodies started closing it down. He stood tall and delivered the ball in the face of pressure. He showed the willingness to make stick throws into tight windows, a necessary trait in critical long yardage situations against sophisticated NFL coverages."

And Newton came from a run-option offense at Auburn. Luck was in a pro-style offense at Stanford, and although he's plenty athletic, he was a pocket passer.

***

None of this means that the Colts are destined for the playoffs next year. But given how other teams have managed their young quarterbacks, it's reasonable to think that Luck could have early success in Indy. After all, if the only difference in Indy between annual double-digit wins and the playoffs, and last season's 2-14 record is Manning, then why can't the Colts win seven, eight or nine games with Luck in 2012?

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 5:03 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2012 8:19 am
 

Manning flies to South Florida after exit in Indy

Don't worry, potential suitors, he has a condo in Florida. (CBS Miami's Facebook page)

By Ryan Wilson

It's been a busy day for Peyton Manning, formerly of the Indianapolis Colts. He and Colts owner Jim Irsay held a joint press conference at noon Wednesday to announce that, after 14 years, the team and its longtime franchise quarterback were parting ways. It was an emotional scene.

But time, as they say, waits for no man. So while Indianapolis continues to remake a franchise that was wildly successful during the Manning era, the franchise's former quarterback contemplates his future. (Even though he said during the press conference that “I haven’t thought about where I’ll play," we're guessing he has.) Which might explain this bit of news: according to CBS Miami, Manning arrived in South Florida via private jet Wednesday afternoon.

"FYI, Peyton Manning is on the ground, he landed at Opa-Locka Airport and just got off his plane just before 4:30 p.m.," CBS Miami posted on its Facebook page. "Not likely to sign today, he owns a condo down here."

The Cardinals organization is collectively having heart palpitations at the news, even if Manning signing with the Dolphins isn't imminent. If nothing else, it gives Manning negotiating leverage when the Cards, Fins, Redskins, Seahawks and other potential suitors queue up to bid for his services (and we still don't know if and when he'll be back to his pre-multiple-neck-surgeries form).

CBS 4 caught up with Manning in a parking lot where he had stopped to speak to reporters. "It was tough for me," he said of leaving the Colts and becoming a free agent. "It was really hard, but now I realize that process has to start. I haven't thought about teams ... It's all new to me."

Inevitably, Manning was asked about his interest in the Dolphins (he's in South Florida, after all).

"The Miami Dolphins have a great organization there," he said before reiterating that he has no idea which teams are interested in him or how this process works. "I truly missed just playing quarterback this year. ... I realize I'm not gonna play forever, and I think I'm gonna know the time to stop playing."

Yes, Wednesday was the end of an era in Indy, but we shouldn't feel sorry for Peyton just yet.


Peyton Manning's run as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts ended Wednesday, when owner Jim Irsay announced the team would release its best player. Manning said his emotional goodbye to the team, the fans and the city of Indianapolis.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 4:27 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 4:31 pm
 

Michael Philbin was intoxicated, had marijuana

PhilbinBy Josh Katzowitz

About two months after the body of Michael Philbin, the son of new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, was positively identified after he drowned in the Fox River in Oshkosh, Wis., toxicology reports show Michael was intoxicated and had marijuana in his system.

According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, Philbin’s blood alcohol level was 0.176, more than two times the legal limit, when he fell through the ice and into the freezing river.

His death has been ruled accidental.

"The loss of a child and sibling is absolutely heartbreaking to a family," Joe Philbin said in a statement released in conjunction with the Oshkosh police department. "Ours is no different. We hope that the results of the recent toxicology report serves as a reminder to us all that the mixture of alcohol and marijuana can be extremely dangerous, potentially even fatal.

"Michael was alone when this incident occurred. For us as a family this has been the most difficult thing to deal with. Had he been with someone this would have been avoided. The message is clear: practice moderation in the consumption of alcohol, avoid illegal drugs, and if someone appears to be in need of assistance, help them so that this situation doesn’t occur again."

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 3:49 pm
 

Jets seem split over whether to go after Manning

If Manning were to replace Sanchez in New York, that would be somewhat awkward. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

While some players have begun to tweet out their desires to play with Peyton Manning -- I’m looking at you Darnell Dockett of Arizona and Raheem Brock of Seattle, who asked current Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson not to take offense -- I’m not sure anybody has been as forceful as what one unnamed Jets player told the New York Daily News.

“I want him in New York,” that player told Manish Mehta. “He needs to be a Jet.”

Oh, and no offense to Mark Sanchez, right?

No matter what the Jets current quarterback thinks about it, the paper reports there have been “serious” internal discussions in the organization about whether it should try to entice Peyton to become the second Manning boy to quarterback a New York team.

“I think any team in the league without an elite quarterback has to be interested in a healthy Peyton Manning,” a team source told Mehta.

But that doesn’t mean everybody in the organization believes the Jets should get involved in the Manning sweepstakes. And that doesn’t mean Manning would want to involve himself with the Jets.

After all, the organization wasn’t exactly stable in 2011 -- with Rex Ryan’s guarantees and Santonio Holmes basically quitting and Bart Scott shooting reporters the finger and, well, just about everything that’s happened there in the past 12 months -- and Manning’s presence might add to the instability.

Leave aside for the moment about the Tony Sparano issue -- would the new offensive coordinator want to change his conservative offensive philosophy to acquiesce to whatever Manning wants? -- the Jets have to weigh the risks of trying to land Manning.

“Can you imagine if word gets out that we’re trying to get Peyton Manning and then we don’t get Peyton Manning?” a member of the organization asked the paper. “Then we have to play with Sanchez?”

But according to general manager Mike Tannenbaum, every option is open in the name of improving the team.

"You still have to do what’s in the best interest of the team," Tannenbaum said last month. "My philosophy is you’ve got to be aggressive, you have to know what’s going on out there, and you have to look for opportunities. Sometimes there will be consequences, some are intended, some are unintended, and with that, you kind of factor that into the equation, and then you go from there."

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 2:54 pm
 

Report: Skins to make 'aggressive' run at Peyton

Washington will get "aggressive" in chasing Manning. (CBSSports.com Illustration)
By Will Brinson

Peyton Manning will officially be a free agent, likely in a few hours, after his release from the Colts on Wednesday. We polled all the CBSSports.com experts on where Peyton will land but there wasn't much interest in the Redskins.

That won't stop Washington from making a run at Manning, though: Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports that the 'Skins will "aggressively" pursue Manning in free agency.

Maske cites sources that say the team is "comfortable with the risks associated with signing Manning," and the "team will pursue him intently."

This isn't shocking at all, really. Clark Judge recently pointed out that Washington has two choices: land Manning or go after Robert Griffin III in the draft. And we all know that Dan Snyder likes to spend money and that Mike Shanahan is infatuated with Manning. (Who isn't?)

But will Manning actually entertain the idea of playing in Washington? Maske also cites a source who says that "he wasn't certain if Manning would consider an offer by the Redskins seriously" because Washington lacks a good offensive line, doesn't have any receivers, is coming off a five-win season and has to play against Eli Manning and the Giants twice a year.

For those who don't think the Eli factor matters: it does. Manning joining the Redskins would create a direct roadblock to the playoffs for his brother. (Or, perhaps more likely, for Peyton.) I don't think it'll keep Peyton from joining any team in the NFC, as Marshall Faulk posited on the NFL Network Wednesday, but it could quite likely keep him from going to the NFC East.

That's not to say Washington is completely eliminated; they're not. But they face more of an uphill battle than most will think in the fight to land Manning.

Don't worry though Redskins fans. According to Maske, Washington's idea is to follow along with Clark's aforementioned plan of attack and target RG3 if they miss out on Manning. Interestingly, Maske also reports that the Redskins signing Manning "would not preclude the addition of a young quarterback" like Griffin or Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M.

As we noted in our NFC East preview, it ultimately comes down to the quarterback position for Washington in 2012. This isn't breaking news. But it's also why it's not surprising to see Washington crank things up in their pursuit of the biggest free agent in NFL history.

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