Examining where Peyton Manning could land


Examining where Peyton Manning could land

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Peyton Manning could be the missing piece for the Miami Dolphins. Or, the Arizona Cardinals. Maybe even the New York Jets or Seattle Seahawks. Washington, Kansas City, Denver and Tennessee also are possible suitors. But for now, where the free agent quarterback lands is anybody's guess. Including Manning's. "I have no idea who wants me, what team wants me, how this process works," Manning said. "I don't know if it's like college recruiting where you go take visits. I mean, this is all so new to me." The four-time league MVP was released by the Colts on Wednesday after spending all 14 of his NFL seasons in Indianapolis, but made it clear he still wants to play football. Plenty of teams will be interested in the 35-year-old Manning -- as long as he proves he's healthy after missing last season while coming off a series of neck operations. If everything checks out, the laundry list of teams will be lengthy -- a Peyton-palooza of sorts. And, why not? Manning has been one of the greatest to play his position, rewriting record books while throwing for nearly 55,000 yards and 399 touchdowns, and winning a Super Bowl along the way. "I realize that I'm not going to play forever, and I think I'm going to know the time to stop playing," Manning said in South Florida, where he has a home and flew to after the news conference in Indianapolis to announce his release. "But right now," he added, "I still want to play." Rex Ryan's Jets could be the landing spot, a scenario that would have Manning sharing the New York-area headlines with his brother Eli of the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. That sure would ramp things up in their sibling rivalry -- and the teams' back-and-forth battle for the city spotlight. It would also likely signal the end for Mark Sanchez after three up-and-down seasons. The Dolphins have said they would strongly pursue Manning if he became available, even after Matt Moore had a solid season while taking over for a team that has tried to replace Dan Marino since 2000. "Dan Marino is my all-time favorite quarterback after my Dad and after Eli," said Manning, whose father Archie played 14 NFL seasons. "He's No. 3 on my list, so everybody knows how I feel about him. I literally have not had one conversation with anyone about these teams." The Cardinals, three years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, are an intriguing possibility with one of the game's top wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald. But they still have a lot of money invested in quarterback Kevin Kolb. "There will be no other Peyton Manning," Colts owner Jim Irsay said. Which is exactly why the quarterback will be one of the most sought-after free agents in NFL history. Here's a look at some of his options: ------ ARIZONA CARDINALS: Certainly having Fitzgerald there would give Manning a game-changing receiver. Arizona would also offer Manning a warm-weather climate. The Cardinals also have been known to go after the big-named signal caller, as they did with Kurt Warner a few years ago. Coach Ken Whisenhunt gave Warner lots of freedom at the line of scrimmage and would have no problem doing that with Manning. The problem? Arizona made a big splash last offseason when it signed Kolb to a huge contract, and would owe him a 7 million roster bonus on March 17 if he remains on the team. ------ DENVER BRONCOS: What about Tebow Time? Well, despite going 8-5 and guiding the Broncos back to the playoffs for the first time in six years, Tim Tebow lost four of his last five starts and completed fewer than half his passes. Team vice president John Elway has said Tebow will be the starter when training camp rolls around -- but stopped short of naming him the QB for the season. That's because there are still plenty of questions about Tebow. The Broncos haven't had a franchise quarterback since Elway retired following his second straight championship more than a decade ago. But they're eager to see what Tebow can do with a regular offseason and dedication to becoming a pocket passer. Sure, he could learn a few things from Manning being around, but his growth could also be stunted. ------ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: Matt Cassel was a Pro Bowl quarterback just two years ago, but a healthy Manning would be a step up. A big one. The Chiefs also have a terrific trio of young playmakers in running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end Tony Moeaki. Manning would have people around him to make plays. And coach Romeo Crennel put the Chiefs in the conversation when he welcomed the idea of having Manning on his team at the NFL combine a few weeks ago. Still, Kansas City owes Cassel 5.25 million this year, 7.5 million next year and 9 million in 2014 -- a hefty bill for a backup. They also have a new offensive coordinator in Brian Daboll, and general manager Scott Pioli is often hands on when it comes to that side of the ball. Would there be a clash? ------ MIAMI DOLPHINS: When the Dolphins hired the offensive-minded Joe Philbin as coach in January, team officials privately said they would go after Manning if he became available. Miami has money, terrific talent and warm weather: three big selling points. Manning also has a home there. The team has started 16 quarterbacks since Marino retired, but Moore played well last year after Chad Henne was sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury. There are doubts, though, that Moore is a franchise quarterback, and if the Dolphins don't sign Manning, they may pursue Green Bay's Matt Flynn or try to trade up and draft a quarterback in the first round. ------ NEW YORK JETS: Ryan has repeatedly expressed his admiration and respect for Manning, and the Jets aren't far removed from winning. They went to consecutive AFC championship games before in-fighting contributed to the team finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs. Sanchez has been the face of the franchise since they traded up to draft him fifth overall in 2009, but the Jets -- who made a huge splash by acquiring Brett Favre four years ago -- have said they will look at every position if they can improve. They also had Tom Moore, Manning's former offensive coordinator, as a consultant last season, although it's unclear if he'll be back. Despite the Jets' recent success under Ryan, the locker-room discord might be a deterrent for Manning. He also might be unwilling to play in the circus atmosphere of New York, a town in which Eli has become a huge star. Think the city's media would play up the sibling rivalry? Salary cap issues also might prevent the Jets from being a true contender. ------ SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: Seattle has its franchise running back in Marshawn Lynch, and seems to be solid on the outside with receivers Sidney Rice, Mike Williams, Doug Baldwin and tight end Zach Miller. The offensive line is young and improved, but the remaining question for Seattle's offense is at quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson toughed his way through a painful pectoral injury for more than half of last season, but was never overly impressive. Manning could be the answer. Still, Jackson has never been given much of a chance as a starter and played fairly well while battling his injury and was respected in the locker room. ------ TENNESSEE TITANS: Fans have already started a "Come Back, Peyton" campaign, with billboards and radio ads pushing for Manning to return to Tennessee, where he starred in college for the Vols. The Titans drafted Jake Locker with the No. 8 pick last April and signed Matt Hasselbeck to a three-year deal last July, but they went 9-7. They have around 30 million in cap space they need to use on finding a pass rush. While a happy homecoming would make for a nice story, general manager Ruston Webster has said twice in the past month -- to season-ticket holders and at the NFL combine -- that the team is happy with its quarterbacks. ------ WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Owner Dan Snyder always seems to be in play when it comes to signing big-name free agents, and the Redskins are in major need of a quarterback. Mike Shanahan has whiffed on three (Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman and John Beck) in his two years in Washington, and the Redskins are expected to pursue Manning if they can determine he's healthy. They have plenty of cap space, and the Redskins can lobby Manning by saying they'll use that room to be aggressive in free agency. But that also could make them less appealing to Manning, since they're lacking at so many positions.

Cubs reach first World Series since 1945


Cubs reach first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.

Krug: My play is "not something I'm proud of at the moment"


Krug: My play is "not something I'm proud of at the moment"

BOSTON -- Torey Krug has plenty of legitimate reasons why he might be getting out of the gate slowly this season.

Krug is still ahead of his initially scheduled return from major shoulder surgery on a torn labrum last spring, and has spent the last couple of games playing his “off” side on a defense pairing with Joe Morrow. It was passable on Thursday night in the win over the New Jersey Devils, but Krug wasn’t much good at all while finishing with a -3 rating in a 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden on Saturday night.

Krug was beaten in a race to the puck for a key shorthanded goal by Montreal speedster Paul Byron in the third period, and the B’s defenseman was a part of the group that allowed an insurance goal to the Habs that effectively iced the game. Krug also had five of his seven shot attempts blocked on the evening, and is still struggling to get his points through in what used to be a very effective weapon for the Black and Gold.

Clearly Krug looks like he’s still feeling his way back to full form coming back from the shoulder issues, but he wasn’t biting on that excuse after the loss to the Habs.

"There's no consistency in my game for whatever reason. I've gotta make sure I'm working to get better, so that my teammates can count on me every single shift,” said Krug. “It’s not there right now, and I’ll take the blame for that. I’ve just got to work through it.

“I have no consistency to my game at all. I make a good play and the next shift it’s a poor play. It’s not something I’m proud of at the moment, but I’ll work through it. I always have. There’s always times during the season when you play poorly and you have to work through it. Unfortunately for me it’s the start of the season, but I’ll get back to a place where my teammates can’t count on me every time I jump over the boards."

With zero points in five games, the link is also obvious between the power play’s struggles and Krug’s erratic play out of the starting gate this season. Claude Julien didn’t specifically address Krug by name, but said there is plenty of blame to go around after another in a long line of home losses to the Canadiens.

“We just lost a game here, so now we’re trying to pick on players. We lost this game tonight because we didn’t play well enough. We made mistakes that were too costly, and when you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have [Carey] Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team,” said Julien. “So we needed to be better. I think overall, in a lot of those areas where we, like I said, we shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes. We can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens.”

The Bruins also can’t afford to go too much longer this season without Krug returning to form given his standing within a Boston back end that isn’t exactly flush with puck-moving defensemen.