Examining where Peyton Manning could land

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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.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

Bears Chairman George McCaskey sets 2017 demands for Ryan Pace, John Fox

PHOENIX — When the 2014 season concluded, with all its drama, poor play and internal dysfunction, Bears Chairman George McCaskey passed along the unvarnished mood of Bears matriarch and owner Virginia McCaskey:
 
"She's pissed off," George McCaskey declared.
 
The 2016 season ended worse record-wise (3-13) than 2014 (5-11) but Bears ownership sees arrows pointing up, not down as they appeared after 2014, occasioning the jettisoning of the general manager and coaching staff.
 
"[Virginia] sees the progress, but like any Bears fan, she wants results," George McCaskey said, chuckling at the recollection of relaying his mother's mood. "That's the quote that won't go away."
 
"Progress" and "results" are vague terms, and sometimes relative. But Bears ownership is not setting a public fail-safe point for either general manager Ryan Pace or head coach John Fox to remain in place, although no scenario could presumably consider four wins actual "progress" from three.
 
"We want to continue to see progress, see the building blocks but there isn't any sort of particular threshold," McCaskey confirmed. "We're not on any particular timetable that somebody else is wanting to set for us. We're wanting to see continued progress toward our goal of sustained success."
 
"Sustained success" is not beyond the scope of possibility, assuming that a talent core can be established and includes a quarterback, which the personnel department under Pace believe it is on the brink of putting in place, whether around Mike Glennon, Mark Sanchez or a player to be drafted or traded for later.

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GM Phil Emery adopted the buzz phrase of "multiple championships," but current leadership does sound less grandiose and more grounded. And where Emery drafts proved disastrous, the Pace administration has had clear hits, injuries notwithstanding, as recently as the 2016 class, which McCaskey mentioned in the context of Pace building the roster exactly the way ownership prefers.
 
"We have confidence in Ryan and John," McCaskey said. "We want to build through the draft. Ryan said that in his interview when he said he was interested in coming to the Bears and we like how he's stuck to that plan. We saw it last year when we had three rookies on the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team; Cody Whitehair, Leonard Floyd and Jordan Howard.
 
"And that's what we need to keep doing; keep building through the draft. I told Ryan he should get ripped this time of year every year for not being more active in free agency and that's because we're developing our own guys and rewarding our own guys."
 
McCaskey supported the actions, or lack of same, by Pace in the pursuit of max-dollar free agents this offseason. The Bears dropped out of sweepstakes for cornerback Stephon Gilmore and safety Tony Jefferson, among others, when prices spiked far beyond the parameters set by the Pace staff.
 
"I've been very impressed with [Pace] as a leader, as an evaluator of talent," McCaskey said. "And one of the things I've been most impressed by with him is the discipline he's shown just as recently as this free agency period. He didn't want to overpay guys. Too often, I think, you overpay guys who don't come through for you and then you have a big hole in your salary cap and you're behind the 8-ball. So I like the discipline he has shown, the restraint he has shown in free agency."