Peyton Manning takes hands-on approach to free agency

Peyton Manning is driving his free-agency process himself, directly dealing with team officials, and hasn’t given a firm timetable on a decision, according to sources with knowledge of the process.

The four-time NFL MVP quarterback has worked out for three teams — the Titans, Broncos and 49ers — and, according to sources, looked good at his workouts.

“I wouldn’t say he’s all the way back, but definitely he’s on the way back,” said one source with a working knowledge of the process. “You could really see (how close he is) on some throws. He’s getting there.”

Manning, not agent Tom Condon, is handling much of the arrangements and setups for workouts and is in personal contact with team officials. While some in the Manning camp have suggested a decision would come by Tuesday, Manning hasn’t stated that himself to teams, sources said, and teams are waiting patiently to hear back from him following his workouts.

Manning hasn’t entered into contract negotiations with the final teams, sources said, and officials with those teams figure that Manning, if and when he chooses where he wants to play, will directly contact the team to let them know he wants to proceed, and then the expectation is Condon will take over negotiations.

“There is a very small circle involved in this,” said one source with knowledge of the situation. “It may really just be Peyton, his father and his wife.”
 
Manning has told teams he expects to be able to participate in organized team activities this spring, and, with six months or so before the season starts, his health is becoming less and less of a concern. After four neck surgeries, however, it certainly could be addressed in the contract.

Though Manning hasn’t talked money with teams, several sources with knowledge of the process said the final suitors are assuming Manning would remain one of the highest-paid players in the game, with an average salary in the range of $20 million, but all of that remains an unknown for now. The teams also anticipate that once Manning decides on a team, the negotiation process could move swiftly.

Manning expressed a desire to get a feel for a team’s facilities, staff and surroundings during his visits. “He really wanted to see how comfortable he could be there,” one source said. “It was all football.”

At this point, the teams involved are waiting for Manning to make the next move. He has been moving at his own pace and directing this next stage of his career, and that probably will define his final days as a short-term free agent as well.

“The teams have all done everything they can do,” one source said. “You don’t want to pressure Peyton or anything like that. It’s not like you’re going to call him. When he’s been ready to move, he’s made the call himself. There isn’t anything else to do but wait.”

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