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Peyton Manning's Injury, Contract Are Key To His Future

The Peyton Manning free agent talk continues. Manning has yet to make a decision on where he will play football next season, and there aren't any solid reports on what he's thinking right now. As best we can tell, there are a half dozen or so teams in the mix.

Reports have said Manning will make his decision sometime within a week, but ESPN's Chris Mortensen, who spoke to 620 KTAR in Arizona, said it could be sooner than that.

"I really get a sense that this thing is going to happen fairly quick. We've said within seven days, I mean I can feel it within three or four days," Mortensen said. "I assure you he has had some personal discussions with maybe, you would say, the priority teams in his mind."

And those teams would be ... ? That's the money question. The Dolphins and Cardinals are often mentioned, as are the Chiefs and Broncos. The Jets and Seahawks, too.

One of the other big questions is Manning's health. Everyone wants to see him throw the ball, and teams will want to have more medical assurances before putting millions of dollars into Manning. Mortensen predicted that Manning is about 85-90 percent healthy. All signs are that he'll play in 2012, though we can't say that for sure.

Mortensen also noted, as we've heard before, that Manning won't necessarily make this all about money.

"He's not going to go to the highest financial bidder," he said. "He's going to make his money, but he wants to go to a franchise where when he walks into a locker room that he knows for the most part the coaching staff and the organization is about football."

But the money probably won't hurt. Manning made $26 million last season and would've been picking up a $28 million check from the Colts had he not been released. Whomever is signing him will be giving him a huge contract. That's a given and probably something multiple teams are willing to do. Mortensen suggested that AFC teams may have a leg up in this race, so perhaps the Dolphins are in the lead at this point.

For more on Manning's free agency, stay tuned to this StoryStream. And check out SB Nation's YouTube channel, where they're about Manning's next home.