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A Manning return to AFC East? Bills fans hope not

Peyton Manning spent four seasons in the AFC East before the Indianapolis Colts were moved to the AFC South. That was right at the time Tom Brady ascended to the top of the quarterbacking heap in the Buffalo Bills' division.

Bills fans now can spend the next several weeks or more hoping Manning doesn't return to the AFC East as a member of the Miami Dolphins or New York Jets. Those are two of the teams that are expected to strongly consider making a bid for the soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterbacking legend. (Of course, Manning is far too expensive for the Bills at this point in their building process, and the Bills are far too downtrodden for his tastes. However, unlike Brady -see the Super Bowl XLVI news conference- we know for a fact he does enjoy visiting Buffalo.)

The Bills' bid to have a winning season would be severely crimped by the presence of Manning in the division. There are other teams that may be much more attractive to Manning than the Dolphins and Jets. Washington, with offensive-minded coach Mike Shanahan, is a front-runner. Reports indicate Seattle may make a strong bid.

Miami has an aggressive-talking new owner in Stephen Ross. They also have a new coach in Joe Philbin, who came from Green Bay and may want to lure free-agent QB Matt Flynn from the Packers. NFL Network analyst Brian Billick speculated last week that building with Flynn may well be more preferable to Philbin than turning over the offensive reins to Manning. Ross, no doubt, will have the final say. The Jets could use Manning because QB Mark Sanchez disappointed last year. But will Manning want to play in the same town as brother Eli but in a the center of a more volatile atmosphere with coach Rex Ryan and the Jets?

Denver and Arizona are among other teams mentioned as potential suitors. Washington and Arizona would be great landing spots from Buffalo's perspective. Let Manning eat up one of the playoff berths in the NFC.

---Mark Gaughan



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