The Peyton Manning sweepstakes got underway on Friday as the National Football League's (NFL) most prized free agent began his fact-finding tour into finding a new team to resume his career.
The 11-time Pro Bowl quarterback was on his way to meeting with top officials of the Denver Broncos on Friday, with the NFL team dispatching a private plane to pick Manning up in Florida, the Denver Post has reported.
That followed reports that 12 teams had expressed interest in Manning after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday, the day before they owed him a $28 million bonus despite missing all of last season after neck surgery.
An NFL source said Manning also plans to visit the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins, the Denver Post said.
Manning, who owns a condominium in South Florida, flew to the Sunshine State after his news conference in Indianapolis on Wednesday, setting off a media buzz in Miami about the chances of his signing to play with the Dolphins.
Four-time NFL Most Valuable Player Manning, who turns 36 later this month, has been cleared by doctors to resume his career.
Indianapolis, who have the first pick in the upcoming NFL draft after finishing 2-14 in Manning's absence, have decided to rebuild and are expected to select highly prized quarterback Andrew Luck from Stanford University with the top choice.
Officials of the Broncos, who unexpectedly made the playoffs after giving the starting quarterback job to Tim Tebow midway through the season were in Stillwater to work out Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Denver has the 25th pick in the NFL draft.
Tebow, whose passing statistics were poor, led Denver to a series of fourth-quarter rallies for victories that lifted them into the playoffs.
A signing of Manning by the Broncos would cast doubt about Tebow's future in Denver, though it is possible Denver could keep Tebow as a package player given his relatively modest $1.5 million salary.
(Reporting By Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)