Mar 19, 2012 1 Comment ›› Pat Dollard
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.
Manning 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.
The 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.
Elway 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 any hangups.
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 said.
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, sources said.
Only an unforeseen significant obstacle that would develop during the final stages of negotiations would prevent Manning from signing with the Broncos, sources said.
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.
“I 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 guy.”
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also chimed in, saying he hoped Tebow wasn’t going anywhere.
“He’s 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.