I’m disappointed in you, NFL. I was sure that at least half the league would be connected to Peyton Manning through a heavily-sourced insider by Thursday morning. Sadly, we’ve fallen four teams short of that mark.

So close.

League oracle Adam Schefter narrowed down the number in his report this morning.

Sources say 12 teams reached out to Peyton Manning’s representatives on Wednesday, after he was released, to gauge his interest in playing for their teams. Many of the teams already have been publicized, but some inevitably will want to keep it secret.

Of those 12 teams, sources tell ESPN that the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos and New York Jets have actually been in contact with Manning’s representatives.

Schefter also reported that Manning is aiming to make his decision within the next week, and that although he’s open to playing in the NFC, he prefers to stay in the AFC.

We fully understand the allure of Manning. As we wrote multiple times in our Manning blitz yesterday that resulted in little sleep and 15 Manning posts (not an exaggeration), for many of the most desperate teams at quarterback he’s still a significant upgrade even if he’s functioning at only around 75 percent. We can only glean so much information from the brief clip of his workout at Duke that was posted last weekend, but my completely speculative medical opinion that’s based on no medical experience whatsoever puts him at about 60 percent in early March.

We also understand the concept of timidly dipping a toe in the Manning waters. Hell, if he can return to form, why not see if you can grab him on the cheap?

Still, there’s tremendous risk in committing to Manning, and it’s remarkable that nearly half the league lacks that much confidence in their current quarterback, and GMs are therefore willing to consider taking on that risk.

There’s a chance Manning has another championship left in his arm, but at this point the odds of him crumbling once he faces live game action are nearly equal, and a misstep at quarterback can linger for years.

The Manning roulette is just beginning.

And the rest…

  • Andrew Luck’s mission next fall is now official: take over for a legend, and avoid falling violently on your face. There will be attempts to draw comparisons to what Aaron Rodgers has done in Green Bay as Brett Favre’s successor, but that ill-conceived connection should stop right now. There’s no comparison for the path that lies ahead for Luck. [Mike Freeman]
  • Soon enough the entire Miami Heat starting five will make their pitch for Manning. First it was Dwyane Wade yesterday, and then LeBron James chimed in. [Sports Illustrated]
  • There are at least 12 reasons why Manning should sign with Miami. [Omar Kelly]
  • LaDaindian Tomlinson can beat that, and he could probably cite at least 15 reasons why Manning would fit well with the Jets. [Rich Cimini]
  • Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had one message for his management team after Manning became a free agent: “make it happen.” [New York Post]
  • On Day 1 of Manning’s free agency the Internet used illogical absurdity to connect him to pretty much every team in the NFL. [Deadspin]
  • Some, um, interesting logic and analogies from a Saints blog giving the standard Bountygate defense. [Canal Street Chronicles]
  • A report from a local Pittsburgh TV station Wednesday morning told Steelers fans that Hines Ward was set to sign with the rival Ravens. It was completely bogus, but that won’t stop the spread of irrational fear throughout a passionate fan base. [Steelblitz Blog]
  • The Raiders have restructured the contracts of Richard Seymour and Michael Huff, clearing $11.82 million in cap space for 2012. [Mac's Football Blog]
  • The Bucs should target Marques Colston. [Pewter Plank]