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Manning was released by the Colts as the lead move in the team’s massive restructuring of its roster. With Manning out the entire season while undergoing a series of neck surgeries, Indianapolis had the worst record in the NFL and is expected to select quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Manning has reported good progress as he works to regenerate nerves in his neck and regain his throwing form.

In addition to Fitzgerald as bait to lure the quarterback, the Cardinals have a coach who is flexible in his approach to the game. He built a team around Kurt Warner and gave the veteran quarterback free rein to change the plays at the line of scrimmage. As a result, the long-suffering Cardinals franchise made a surprise run to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season and captured the NFC West title again the next year.

Manning is familiar with Whisenhunt from the coach’s work as offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Cardinals also have a state-of-the-art stadium with a retractable roof and a natural grass field. The addition of Manning might prompt the franchise to follow through on earlier plans to build a practice bubble so players can escape the stifling heat during summer mini-camps and early season practices.

A concern could be Arizona’s inconsistent offensive line that could lose left tackle Levi Brown, who is expected to be released because he is due a big payday and wouldn’t return unless he signed a new contract.

Less than a year ago, shortly after the lockout ended, Arizona traded cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to Philadelphia for Kolb, then signed the quarterback to a big contract. But Kolb had trouble adjusting to the new offense and missed eight starts with injuries. Second-year pro John Skelton wound up starting half the games and having more success than Kolb did.

If Manning doesn’t come to Arizona, the Cardinals will be faced with assuring Kolb that his services are still coveted, that the pursuit of the star was nothing personal.