RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/CBS4) – Denver Broncos executive John Elway and coach John Fox traveled to North Carolina on Friday to watch Peyton Manning work out at Duke, while the Miami Dolphins dropped out of the running to sign the NFL’s only four-time MVP.
The Broncos officials landed at Raleigh-Durham airport about 1:15 p.m. EDT and got into a white van near the plane. They arrived at Duke about 30 minutes later and drove through a gate outside the football team’s practice facilities.
Manning was seen walking out of the Blue Devils’ indoor facilities wearing blue shorts, a gray t-shirt and no helmet heading to the outdoor practice field followed by Elway and Fox.
The view of the practice field from the parking lot where reporters were gathered is partially obscured by a building that houses the visiting team’s locker room and a nine-foot, black gate.
According to the NFL Network, Duke head football coach David Cutcliffe said Manning threw 50 to 60 passes during his workout for the Broncos. Cutcliffe is a good friend, and Manning’s former quarterback coach when he played at the University of Tennessee.
After the workout, Elway sent out two tweets:
“We enjoyed visiting with Peyton today in N.C. He threw the ball great and looked very comfortable out there.”
“Watching him throw today was the next step in this important process for our team and Peyton. It was a productive visit and went well.”
Watch video of Elway and Fox walking with manning at Duke University in the clip below:
Manning has been rehabilitating in North Carolina after a series of neck surgeries.
Another person confirmed to the AP that Manning phoned the Miami Dolphins on Thursday to advise them he’ll sign elsewhere. The team has now turned its attention to free agent quarterback Matt Flynn.
The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because Manning’s workouts have remained private and the Dolphins haven’t talked publicly about their negotiations.
Cutcliffe told The Tennessean that Manning has made good progress throwing the football following operations that forced him to miss the entire 2011 season.
Manning’s uncertain health led the Indianapolis Colts to balk at paying a $28 million roster bonus to the 35-year-old quarterback, which in turn started a race for the most prized free agent of the offseason and maybe ever.
Along with the Broncos, the Tennessee Titans remain in contention for Manning. Late Friday, reports indicated the Arizona Cardinals who had also met with Manning were out of the race, but that the San Francisco 49ers are now in. 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh reportedly attended a workout with Manning in Raleigh last Tuesday.
Manning’s whirlwind free agency tour officially kicked off soon after he bid farewell to the Colts in an emotional press conference last week.
The Broncos had the first crack at wooing him, rolling out the red carpet for his visit. Team officials flew him in and he spent the spent the day chatting with Elway, the Hall of Fame QB turned team executive. Manning also was escorted around the team’s building by coach John Fox and general manager Brian Xanders as he listened to their sales pitch.
After that, Manning journeyed to nearby Castle Rock, Colo., and spent the evening with good friend Brandon Stokley, who played catch with Manning the next morning and spoke highly of his former teammate in an interview on a local radio show.
Manning’s next stop was Arizona, where he met with the Cardinals for nearly 6 1/2 hours.
Next came the workout for the 49ers followed by a meeting with the Titans. Manning has a big fan in 89-year-old Titans owner Bud Adams, and the former Tennessee Volunteer spent nearly eight hours with team executives on a plane and at the club’s headquarters.
The NFL Network reported that Manning was expected to work out for the Titans, but there was no immediate confirmation from the team or word on when that would happen.
– By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
CBS4, AP Sports Writers Steve Wine in Miami and Pat Graham in Denver contributed to this report.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)