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AP source: Manning arrives in Arizona
TEMPE, ARIZ. (AP) - Peyton Manning’s tour of potential NFL destinations is making a stop in the desert.
A person familiar with Manning’s location says the free-agent quarterback flew to Arizona on Saturday night for meetings with the Cardinals.
The Arizona Republic was the first to report that the four-time MVP had arrived.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
The former Indianapolis Colts star met with the Denver Broncos on Friday night at the team’s headquarters He is expected to meet with Cardinals coaches and team officials on Sunday. After Arizona, Manning reportedly is going to Florida to meet with the Miami Dolphins.
The Manning stakeout in Arizona began earlier Saturday, but there was no sign of him.
The Cardinals’ facility was a bee hive of activity as the setting for Kurt Warner’s annual “Ultimate Football Experience,” a fundraiser for his First Things First foundation that features current and past football stars. Among them was Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who said he knew nothing of any contact the team may have made with Manning.
“I haven’t heard anything,” he said. “I’d like to feel like if he was going to be here I would probably hear something from somebody.”
The presence of Fitzgerald, one of the best receivers in the game, is considered a major reason why Manning would consider the Cardinals, who won seven of nine after a 1-6 start to wind up 8-8 last season.
The team already has invested millions in quarterback Kevin Kolb and is scheduled to pay him $7 million if he is on the roster Thursday. The Cardinals, though, had more success with second-year quarterback John Skelton starting than with Kolb, who missed much of the season with turf toe and a concussion.
“He’s a four-time MVP. He’s a Super Bowl champion,” he said. “He’s arguably the best quarterback to ever play football. He’s a free agent. If he’s healthy, I know he’s somebody that can help any team that he goes to. I understand the interest. It makes sense.”
Fitzgerald said he wasn’t surprised Arizona is in the mix.
“After last year, Michael (team president Michael Bidwill) said he was going to continue staying aggressive,” Fitzgerald said, “and he’s going to do everything he can to make sure we’re going to be able to compete for an NFC West championship every single year. He hasn’t done anything to this point to make us believe anything different.”
Besides Fitzgerald, the Cardinals can offer a state-of-the-art stadium with a retractable roof and natural grass field that slides out into the sunshine when not being used. Then there is the weather _ sunshine with the temperature in the high 70s on Saturday.
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