The Cleveland Browns officially bowed out of the running for former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning today. Manning was released yesterday by the Colts after 14 years in Indy. The future Hall of Famer has already been contacted by at least 12 teams, despite having only been a free agent for about 30 hours.
But, the Cleveland Browns are, apparently, not included in those teams seeking the 11 time Pro Bowler. According to The Washington Post, the Browns' GM Tom Heckert was asked today about the team's plans for the quarterback position - and if Manning was in that plan.
"Not really," Heckert replied. "He's obviously a great player and all that, but where we're at and where he's at ... To be honest, we have not talked to him or anything. No, that's probably not a direction we're going in."
While Heckert did not go into any further details about the future of the position in Cleveland, it is presumed that the Browns are concentrating their efforts on landing Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Griffin is expected to be taken with the second overall draft choice, but who will exercise that pick is still up for debate.
The Browns and the Washington Redskins are both thought to be working with the St. Louis Rams, the current holders of the choice, to work out a trade. The Miami Dolphins are also thought to be interested in Griffin, but have Manning as their priority target this offseason.
Reports earlier today said Manning was looking to make his decision by the end of next week. Teams around the NFL are hoping to sign the quarterback before the start of free agency on Tuesday. That would then allow the team to use Manning as a selling point for other free agent targets.
Manning is cleared to sign with any team before the start of free agency because he is a free agent because he was released, not because he had an expiring contract.