Denver's plans depend on Manning decision

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
2:55
PM ET
The Peyton Manning sweepstakes may be winding down, and two things are becoming apparent.

The Denver Broncos have a real chance to change the landscape of their organization, and the Kansas City Chiefs better make a push for Manning if they want him. ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported Sunday that Denver and Arizona appear to be the favorites to sign Manning.

Manning
Tebow
They reported that other teams can get still get in the picture, but they quoted one source as saying his “gut is that Manning is leaning toward Denver." The report suggests Denver may have an advantage because Manning has a relationship with Denver football czar John Elway and head coach John Fox. Manning visited Denver on Friday and then went to Arizona.

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt has said the team is interested in Manning, but there haven’t been any reports that progress is being made on that front.

There is a chance Manning could make his decision in the next couple of days. The Broncos, I think, would like to see a decision made prior to 4 p.m. ET Tuesday when free agency begins. The Broncos’ needs and approach to free agency would be different if Manning is a Bronco.

While the Broncos could very well look to trade Tim Tebow if Manning is signed, Tebow could still be in Denver’s plans if the rare opportunity to sign Manning fails. Thus, Denver’s needs on offense will be completely different depending on who is the quarterback.

If Manning is signed, watch for Denver to gear up the passing game and go after receivers (Reggie Wayne, anyone?) and another tight end (Dallas Clark, anyone?). Basically do what it takes to try to win within the two- or three-year window that Manning, who turns 36 this month, would be in Denver.

For example, I think San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson -- who is from Colorado -- could suddenly be an option in Denver if Manning is signed. If Tebow is the quarterback, Jackson would not be an option. If Tebow is the quarterback, Denver will look to upgrade the running game much more than the passing game.

We will find out soon enough which direction Denver is going, but it appears it has a strong chance of moving forward with one of the best quarterbacks ever to play.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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