Will Peyton come back to the Rocky Top State???
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Peyton Manning wrapped up his latest free agent visit, leaving the Tennessee Titans’ complex after spending more than eight hours with team officials.
Titans coach Mike Munchak, general manager Ruston Webster and chief operating officer Mike Reinfeldt landed Wednesday afternoon at Nashville International — not John C. Tune airport as indicated on a flight plan — after flying into Raleigh-Durham Airport (N.C.) to pick up Manning.
They returned to the team’s headquarters, where the Titans made their pitch to Manning.
Several team officials apparently met with Manning throughout the day, including Tennessee’s team doctor, Burton Elrod. He spent 90 minutes at the team’s headquarters during Manning’s visit.
Offensive line coach Bruce Matthews, a Hall of Fame lineman like Munchak, also was seen leaving the facility not long after Elrod.
Even Tennessee governor Bill Haslam called Manning during his visit, owner Bud Adams told Nashville station WSMV-TV late Wednesday night.
Reinfeldt left around 6 p.m. ET talking on a cell phone, followed shortly by dinner being brought in from a nearby Italian restaurant.
The day began when Munchak, Webster and Reinfeldt had arrived in North Carolina just before 1:30 p.m. ET. Manning arrived at the airport riding in the backseat of a black Escalade at 1:53 p.m. ET, boarded the plane and the group headed to Tennessee.
Manning walked out of the Titans’ facility with Munchak at 10:05 p.m. ET after spending 6½ hours inside. Manning waved to about 50 fans who had gathered along the fence hoping for a glimpse of the quarterback. They yelled his name, and he waved at them before getting into Munchak’s SUV and driving away through a back gate.
Titans spokesman Robbie Bohren declined to comment after Manning departed. However, Adams told WSMV-TV he thinks Manning was very pleased with what he saw from the Titans.
“He’s going to make his mind up fairly soon; hopefully, we’d be in the running,” Adams said.
Adams told WHOU-TV in Houston on Wednesday night that he offered Manning a contract “for life” with the Titans and “feels great” about his team’s chances to sign the four-time MVP.
Manning was spotted boarding Adams’ private plane Wednesday night, but it was unknown if he returned to the Raleigh-Durham airport. Manning’s friend and Duke coach David Cutcliffe lives in the area. Cutcliffe was Manning’s offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee and the quarterback has worked out several times over the past six weeks at the Blue Devils’ facilities.
Manning has not eliminated any of the teams with which he has previously met — the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, or Miami Dolphins — sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, nor has he closed the door on possibly meeting with other teams.
Manning has not worked out for the teams at these meetings, but he is willing to work out for teams he considers serious finalists.
Some teams that have reviewed his medical records and observed extensive video of recent throwing sessions appear satisfied with his physical status, both in neck stability and arm strength, and may not require him to work out, according to sources. However, a source added that Manning has no hesitation about putting his throwing skills on display and would expect such a workout to be part of the process.
Munchak on Tuesday was busy with other non-Manning business, including meeting with free-agent guard Steve Hutchinson. Meanwhile, Green Bay Packers free-agent center Scott Wells visited the Titans on Wednesday, a league source told ESPN.
Adams has said he will do whatever it takes to sign Manning in his chase for a championship. He sees the quarterback as the missing piece. The 89-year-old Adams is staying in Houston, and that’s why Reinfeldt joined Webster and Munchak for this trip. Adams promoted Reinfeldt from general manager in January to senior executive vice president and COO to act as his point man with the team in Tennessee while he lives 650 miles away.
The Titans already have veteran Matt Hasselbeck with two years left on a deal signed last July, and drafted Jake Locker with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen and The Associated Press was used in this report.