Amid all the free agent rumors swirling, the most talked-about NFL player on the market isn't even technically on the market. Superstar Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is expected to wind up on pretty much any team except for the Colts when the 2012 season kicks off.
There were early reports coming out that Manning was dangerously out of shape after missing all of 2011 with a neck injury. An analyst described Manning as having a "noodle arm." Now some sources closer to Manning are coming out in his defense, claiming that Manning can still be an asset to an NFL team.
NFL.com relayed some comments from former Colts GM Bill Polian, who saw Manning throw in late December.
"It's marked (improvement) from where he was back in September," Polian said. "He threw it accurately, he threw it with a good, tight spiral, and he threw it with velocity.
"Generally, he looked like a pretty confident quarterback out there."
In a different NFL.com piece, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri also went on record as saying that Manning is not nearly so far-gone as those early reports suggested.
"I haven't watched him the last few weeks, but I did see him at the end of the season," Vinatieri said during the interview. "He was developing nicely. Was he quite all the way back yet? No, probably not. Not to his standards.
"But he definitely is not that far off."
For teams that might be in the market for Manning, the reports are certainly encouraging and will continue to fan the flames of speculation.