Cardinals were among final teams Peyton Manning considered in 2012
The year was 2012. The Arizona Cardinals had just come off an 8-8 season finishing second in the NFC West, and Peyton Manning had just been released by the Indianapolis Colts.
Arizona had suddenly emerged as one of the few teams Manning would consider to continue his NFL career. In fact, according to a piece by The Athletic, Arizona and Denver were the first two teams Manning actually traveled to before choosing to sign the Denver Broncos.
“I went to dinner with some of the players. I remember Larry Fitzgerald insisted on carrying my luggage. He goes, ‘No, no, no. Whatever you need, I am here. Whenever you need, you’re not doing anything. Whatever I can do to help.’ I said, ‘Come on now.'” Manning said in the piece.
In the two season after Kurt Warner retired, Fitzgerald’s quarterbacks were John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Derek Anderson and Max Hall.
Manning said his relationship with Ken Wisenhunt, who was the Cardinals head coach at the time, played a role and helped give Arizona a realistic chance at signing the Super Bowl champion.
“I ended up staying at Whisenhunt’s house,” Manning said. “Since those were my first two, I needed to take a breath after that and tried to form some list.”
He would expand his list eventually meeting with the San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks.
Cardinals’ fans might be happy to hear that Manning’s visit to the desert kept him away from Pete Carroll and the Seahawks.
According to the article, Carroll had flown in to Denver to try to lure Manning to visit the Seahawks’ facility instead of Arizona. Manning, however, kept his commitment to Whisenhunt, Michael Bidwill and the Cardinals.
As it happened, Manning wound up signing with Denver and went on to add a Super Bowl trophy and one more MVP to his hardware collection.
Seattle would go on to draft Russell Wilson in the 2012 NFL Draft and lead the Seahawks to multiple Super Bowl appearances.
The Cardinals finished 5-11 in 2012, good for last place in the NFC West.
According to Manning’s father Archie, the Cardinals may have played themselves out of the running by putting deadline on Peyton’s decision.
“Some teams eliminated themselves because they had a quarterback situation where they had to know one way or the other if Peyton was going to come to them so they could do something contractually. They needed to know. But he wasn’t ready,” Archie Manning said.
The Cardinals were one of those teams, Whisenhunt said.
“He was honest and fair and said he wasn’t ready to choose a team. We certainly were in the running and had a really good chance, but it really came down to we had to make the decision before Peyton was ready to make his. If it all happened a month earlier, things could have been different. The way it worked, we just ran out of time,” he said.