Peyton Manning will become the next quarterback of the Denver Broncos, barring a snag during intensified contract negotiations that have commenced under the instruction of the four-time MVP to his agent Tom Condon, according to multiple sources.
Once the Manning deal becomes official, Denver will try to trade Tim Tebow, according to sources.
Manning called Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway on Monday morning to tell him the news. Manning also called the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans to inform them of his intent to now play for Denver.
instructed Condon to negotiate the finite details of a contract that
would conclude with him joining the Broncos after a frenzied but focused
process that began when the Indianapolis Colts released him March 7.
Broncos won't comment on Manning's decision until they have a formal
agreement in principle, but as of late Monday night the sides were in
the process of finalizing a deal, according to sources. The team plans
to introduce Manning at a new conference Tuesday afternoon at their Dove
Valley facility in Englewood, CO, a team source added.
The introduction is expected to occur after Manning signs the contract prior to the news conference.
and Manning first discussed the parameters of a five-year, $95 million
contract during their March 9 meeting in Denver, the first time the
quarterback visited a team during his free agency.
Elway then told Manning during last Friday's trip to Durham, N.C. --
where the quarterback has done the majority of his training -- that he
wanted to finalize a contract "fair to both sides." Neither side expects
However, details such as guaranteed
money, structure of the deal and contract language designed to protect
the Broncos in the event of Manning's inability to perform due to his
prior neck surgeries all will be addressed in the contract, sources
Yet the Broncos have few concerns with
Manning's medical condition. He already passed the physical exam that a
team of Broncos doctors administered during the visit to Durham, a
development that Elway informed Manning of when he returned home to
Denver that night.
Manning also passed physical
exams by San Francisco and Tennessee but he has told all teams that he
still has gains to achieve in terms of arm strength and endurance that
are related to nerve regeneration due to his neck injury. Nevertheless,
his throwing sessions observed by all three teams -- combined with
extensive video of previous workouts -- were satisfactory enough for
those teams to pursue the most celebrated available player since the
NFL's free agency era began in 1993.
"I think it's a great place for him," Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers
said outside the Broncos' complex. "I don't think he made a bad
decision. I think he made a great decision. Hopefully we can prove him
right and hopefully we can win a lot of games here."
Elway now has helped produce Denver's biggest win since he led the
Broncos to their last Super Bowl win in January 1999. Elway and Manning
have stayed in close contact throughout this process, strengthening a
relationship that grew well beyond the golf the two had played together
in the past.
Manning is comfortable enough with
Denver that he has directed Condon not to negotiate with the 49ers and
Titans to avoid any perception that he was seeking financial leverage,
Only an unforeseen significant obstacle that
would develop during the final stages of negotiations would prevent
Manning from signing with the Broncos, sources said.
owner Bud Adams released a statement Monday saying: "Obviously I am
disappointed, because I thought we would be a perfect fit.
that we move forward, I want our fans to know that our expectations
haven't changed -- winning a championship is still the goal. I like our
quarterback situation moving forward and we will continue to build the
team through free agency and the draft with that goal in mind.
"I also want to commend Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker.
They were thrown into a very difficult situation. Matt was very good
for us last year; and at some point, we expect Jake to be our future
franchise quarterback," Adams said in the statement.
49ers CEO Jed York wished Manning well and said he would like to have former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith back at quarterback.
have a contract on the table and it's up to (Alex)," York told
CSNBayArea.com. "We'd like for him to be here, and we'll see where it
Smith, perhaps irritated by the 49ers' interest in Manning, visited with the Miami Dolphins over the weekend. York said he hopes Smith is the 49ers' starting quarterback next season.
"I trust (coach) Jim (Harbaugh) and (general manager) Trent (Baalke) to figure it out," York told the website.
Several Broncos players, including running back Willis McGahee and defensive end Elvis Dumervil, celebrated the news on Twitter.
"To all my free agents across the nfl, I think u know what time it is. It's about to go down...," McGahee wrote.
And Dumervil's tweet included "What a power move!"
Not all Twitter reaction was positive, however. NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders tweeted that Manning should have picked the 49ers instead.
to Broncos!! Bad move just my opinion. Outside no dome very cold
winters inexperienced receivers. I would have chose 49ers. Oh I did," he
wrote. Sanders played for the 49ers in 1994.
"Think! Do u go to the Team that went 2 the NFC championship with great defense ,running game n Moss or Denver?"
Once the contract is completed, Manning will travel to
Denver for a news conference to formally introduce him. Shortly
thereafter, Manning will be allowed to work with the team's trainers,
strength and medical staffs because of his prior neck surgery.
While Manning soon will arrive in Denver, Tebow could well
depart. According to sources, Denver will try to trade Tebow -- who led
the team to an 8-8 finish, an AFC West title and a first-round playoff
victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
wouldn't say I feel bad for him," Ayers said. "It's a business. And I'm
pretty sure Tim understands that. ... We wish him luck, no matter what
he does. I hope he's here. He's a great leader, a great locker room
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also chimed in, saying he hoped Tebow wasn't going anywhere.
a young man, right? And a year or two of working under John Elway and
Peyton Manning, you know, I'm not sure any other quarterbacks around the
country get that opportunity," Hickenlooper said.
Manning's arrival will set in motion a string of personnel moves for the
Broncos. Denver has had a free-agent plan strictly for if the team was
able to sign Manning. The two sides now will pursue other players to
bolster the roster, some of whom will be familiar to Manning.
One interesting player is former Colts center Jeff Saturday,
whom Manning has always endorsed as invaluable to his own performance. A
source said discussions related to Saturday, who was Manning's center
with the Colts for 12 years, involved evaluations by all three teams'
personnel and coaching staffs on whether he would be a logical fit.
However, Manning did not mandate that he and Saturday would have to be a
package deal, sources said.
Saturday was supposed to visit the Green Bay Packers and Tennessee, but Denver will have great allure due to Manning's arrival, whenever it becomes official.
Linebacker Joe Mays,
who re-signed with the Broncos for three years and $12 million, said he
was even more thrilled to return to Denver after the Manning news.
"Aw man, it's going to be exciting just what he brings to a team, he
brings his leadership, just the way he approaches the game," said Mays,
who canceled a trip to visit with the Colts on Sunday, "He has the 'it'
factor when it comes to winning games. He had it over his time with the
Colts and now he's got a chance to do it here. We're all excited to have
him on the team."
Under terms of the new collective
bargaining agreement, Manning is not allowed to engage in classroom
football discussions with the coaching staff until April 16.
will not be allowed to use the team's football field under the
supervision and instruction of the coaching staff until May 2. Any
throwing sessions under the supervision of trainers that are considered
part of his rehab may not involve current Broncos receivers until April
16. He can throw independently with Denver receivers without coaching
supervision or instruction but it must be away from the facility until
the allowable voluntary window opens per the CBA.
Broncos have retired jersey No. 18 but the only player to ever wear that
number for Denver said last week that he wanted to make it available
for Manning. Frank Tripucka wore No. 18 for three seasons in the 1960s,
when he was the first quarterback in team history. After his tenure, the
number was ceremonially retired.
But Tripucka is just fine with breaking it out of storage. The
84-year-old Tripucka said in a phone interview that if Manning
wants that number, "He should have it. Let's give it to him."
Mortensen is ESPN's senior NFL analyst. Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL
Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.