RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Denver Broncos executive John Elway and coach John Fox traveled to North Carolina on Friday to watch Peyton Manning work out at Duke, while the Miami Dolphins dropped out of the running to sign the NFL’s only four-time MVP.
The Broncos officials landed at Raleigh-Durham airport about 1:15 p.m. EDT and got into a white van near the plane. They arrived at Duke about 30 minutes later and drove through a gate outside the football team’s practice facilities.
A person told The Associated Press that Manning was going to work out at Duke facilities Friday afternoon for the Broncos. Manning has been rehabilitating in the Raleigh-Durham area after a series of neck surgeries.
Another person confirmed to the AP that Manning phoned the Miami Dolphins on Thursday to advise them he’ll sign elsewhere. The team has now turned its attention to free agent quarterback Matt Flynn.
The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Manning’s workouts have remained private and the Dolphins haven’t talked publicly about their negotiations.
Duke coach and longtime Manning friend David Cutcliffe told The Tennessean that Manning has made good progress throwing the football following operations that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season.
Manning’s uncertain health led the Indianapolis Colts to balk at paying a $28 million roster bonus to the 35-year-old quarterback, which in turn started a race for the most prized free agent of the offseason and maybe ever.
Along with the Broncos, the Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals remain in contention for Manning.
But not the Dolphins, who met with the record-setting QB for several hours Monday in Indianapolis and made signing him their top priority. Now the Dolphins will court Flynn, who visited the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday. Flynn was the backup last year for Green Bay and has a good relationship with new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, the Packers’ offensive coordinator the past five seasons.
Time is a factor for the Cardinals, who must decide by 4 p.m. EDT on Friday whether or not to release quarterback Kevin Kolb. He’s due $7 million if he is on the roster Saturday.
Manning’s whirlwind free agency tour officially kicked off soon after he bid farewell to the Colts in an emotional press conference last week.
The Broncos had the first crack at wooing him, rolling out the red carpet for his visit. Team officials flew him in and he spent the spent the day chatting with Elway, the Hall of Fame QB turned team executive. Manning also was escorted around the team’s building by coach John Fox and general manager Brian Xanders as he listened to their sales pitch.
After that, Manning journeyed to nearby Castle Rock, Colo., and spent the evening with good friend Brandon Stokley, who played catch with Manning the next morning and spoke highly of his former teammate in an interview on a local radio show.
Manning’s next stop was Arizona, where he met with the Cardinals for nearly 6 1/2 hours.
Then Tennessee entered the picture. Manning has a big fan in 89-year-old Titans owner Bud Adams, and the former Tennessee Volunteer spent nearly eight hours with team executives on a plane and at the club’s headquarters.
The NFL Network reported that Manning was expected to work out for the Titans, but there was no immediate confirmation from the team or word on when that would happen.