Broncos sign Peyton Manning
Talk about a powerful pair.
Introducing Manning as the newest Denver Bronco on Tuesday, the two Super Bowl winners each talked about hoisting another Lombardi Trophy, this time together. And soon.
More on Manning
Peyton's A Bronco:
Broncos fans can thank one man for Peyton Manning choosing to play in Denver: John Elway, ESPN.com's Rick Reilly writes. Story
The Broncos and Manning may be new friends, but there was a comfort level Tuesday that never existed with Tim Tebow, writes Bill Williamson. Blog
What About Tebow?
Tim Tebow could be traded any day now, but would he be a good fit for any of the teams that have expressed interest?
• Cast your votes!
The Jilted Teams:
Teams that had no chance at Manning leaped in like besotted goofs. Now they're paying the price with the QBs they want as their Plan Bs, ESPN.com's Johnette Howard writes. Story
What were the 49ers thinking? Their pursuit of Manning was a mistake of monumental proportions, ESPN.com's Jemele Hill writes. Story
"I realize I don't have 14 years left, by any means," Manning said. "This isn't something where I'm just building a foundation to do something in two years or three years. This is a now situation. We're going to do whatever we can to win right now. That's all I'm thinking about right now."
Just so long as Manning's surgically repaired neck goes along with the plan.
Neither he nor Elway has a doubt it will, and the Hall of Famer-turned-executive knew the NFL's only four-time MVP was just what his club needed.
The franchise has won just two playoff games since Elway's career came to an end with a second straight Super Bowl triumph in 1999.
But things change, and in the NFL, they can change fast. Tebowmania is now a passing fad in Denver.
A couple of photos of Tebow that once adorned the halls at the Broncos' headquarters were gone Tuesday by the time Manning was introduced.
"I believe that he's got a lot of great football left in him," Elway said of his new QB. And if that's true, the Broncos will wind up paying him $96 million over five years under his new deal.
After holding up his new, bright orange jersey in a photo op with Elway and owner Pat Bowlen, Manning answered many of the questions that have been bouncing around since March 7, when the Colts released him to avoid paying a $28 million bonus and set in motion one of the most frenetic free-agent pursuits in history.
The first issue on everyone's mind: So, Peyton, how do you feel?
"I'm not where I want to be. I want to be where I was before I was injured," Manning said, referring to the neck problem that kept him off the field in 2011 after he'd started every game for the Colts for the previous 13 seasons. "I have a lot of work to do in getting to where I want to be from a health standpoint and learning this offense. This is going to take a ton of work."
As far as being the man who could bring about the end of Tebow's stay in Denver, Manning said: "I know what kind of player Tim Tebow is, what kind of person he is ... and what an awesome year he had this year. If Tim Tebow is here next year, I'm going to be the best teammate I can be to him; he and I are going to help this team win games. If other opportunities present themselves to him, I'm going to wish him the best."
On Elway's role in leading him to choose Denver over other suitors, the most serious of which were the Titans and 49ers: "Everyone knows what kind of competitor he is as a player. I can tell he's just as competitive in this new role. That got me excited."
And so, the deal -- the club's most dramatic since Elway was acquired from the Colts in 1983 -- was sealed.
With the new contract in place, Manning plans to retire in Denver. The Broncos, meanwhile, have some protection in the way the contract was formulated. There's no signing bonus. Manning will get $18 million guaranteed for next season, but must pass a physical before each season, starting in 2013, to get paid.
A source told ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt that Manning will be paid $20 million in both the 2013 and '14 seasons if he passes a team physical to be given 10 days before the start of the 2013 league year. There is an injury waiver included in the contract, however, covering Manning's surgically repaired neck. If he reinjures the neck during the 2013 season, the Broncos will not have to pay his 2014 salary.
He is scheduled to make $19 million in both '15 and '16.
"I don't consider it much of a risk, knowing Peyton Manning," Elway said. "I asked him, 'Is there any doubt in your mind that you can't get back to the Peyton Manning we know of?' And he said, 'There's no doubt in my mind.' "
Elway's move to the front office last year set off a whirlwind of activity that landed the Broncos in the playoffs. But the old QB is in this to win Super Bowls and he's throwing his hat in with Manning, the 50,000-yard passer who redefined the quarterback position through the 2000s, not Tebow -- who seems most comfortable carrying and not throwing the ball.
"Tim Tebow's a great kid. If I want someone to marry my daughter, it's him," Elway said.
But to run an NFL offense, to get a title, Elway wanted Manning.
"My goal is to make Peyton Manning the best quarterback that's ever played the game," Elway said, "and he's got that ability with the football that he's got left.
"He's a guy that raises all boats. He's already made (his teammates) better, and they haven't met him yet just because of the type of person he is, his reputation and what he's done in this league. So, he's just going to have a tremendous effect on the Denver Broncos."
Manning, who turns 36 on Saturday, said he made a quick connection with Elway, who won his two Super Bowls in Denver after his 37th birthday. Since No. 7's retirement, a long string of 11 quarterbacks have come to Denver, trying in vain to replace the irreplaceable. If anyone can get out of that shadow, Manning could be the man.
He's got two trips to the Super Bowl and one title, 11 Pro Bowls and was the fastest player to reach 50,000 yards and 4,000 completions. His first TD toss for Denver will be his 400th.
Manning's familiar No. 18 was actually retired -- a tribute to Denver's first quarterback, Frank Tripucka. But Tripucka was more than happy to let Manning bring it out of mothballs.
He's a guy that raises all boats. He's already made (his teammates) better, and they haven't met him yet just because of the type of person he is, his reputation and what he's done in this league.” -- Broncos exec John Elway
on Peyton Manning's impact on Broncos
However, Tebow's No. 15 jersey, may soon become a collector's item.
Sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen and ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that the Broncos are attempting to trade Tebow.
Teams that have discussed a trade for Tebow, either internally or with the Broncos, include the Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, a league source told Schefter.
While one league source says the Dolphins are not likely to deal for Tebow, two sources told ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini on Tuesday night the Jets' interest in Tebow has intensified.
The Jets, who a league source originally categorized as "a long shot at best," are concerned about the negative perception of its locker room. The Jets were divided by player unrest last season, and "bringing in a guy like (Tebow) would help," one source told Cimini. "It makes perfect sense."
Meanwhile, the new face of the Broncos stressed he was ready to work and was planning to stay in town to do so.
Manning even picked up a playbook Tuesday, but the offense crafted for and by him will be drastically changed from the option-heavy one that Tebow ran in Denver last season. And coaches can't answer any questions Manning might have until April 16, when offseason programs can begin around the league and he'll finally be able to work out at Broncos headquarters.
Still, it's expected he'll be able to run his kind of offense in Denver. Coach John Fox said he can't wait to pair that no-huddle approach with Denver's altitude for a double-whammy on defenses.
One other factor in Manning's decision to play outdoors in the Mile High City: The nearly $40 million in salary cap room the Broncos have, putting them in the mix for quality free agents, possibly including Manning's former teammates Jeff Saturday and Dallas Clark.
Cornerback Tracy Porter is scheduled to visit with the Broncos on Wednesday, a source told ESPN.com's Bill Williamson. Porter returned an interception of Manning 74 yards for a touchdown in the Saints' Super Bowl victory over the Colts, sealing the win for New Orleans.
Quarterback Caleb Hanie also is scheduled to visit the Broncos on Wednesday, a source familiar with the situation told ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson. With Denver looking to trade Tebow, the Broncos need to address their depth at quarterback behind Manning. Denver also is scheduled to host veteran Billy Volek.
The status of Manning's neck, however, will be an ongoing issue. It's one thing to throw through the entire route tree on a practice field, which he did to pretty much everyone's satisfaction. It's quite another to take a blindside hit from a 300-pound defender, which hasn't happened since he was surgically repaired.
"There's no question I have work to do," Manning said. "I've been very open with the Broncos, really all the teams, about my medical history, about where I am, about how I feel. I really let them tell me. I've put all the cards out on the table, working out for three teams, going through my entire medical history, not just this past year. I couldn't sell myself when it came to that. I had to let them tell me and decide this was something they wanted to do."
Elway, general manager Brian Xanders and Fox all said the goal is for Manning to start the Broncos' first exhibition game in August. That's Manning's desire, too.
"I want to be out there every single snap," Manning said. "Every single play."
Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN sports business analyst Andrew Brandt, ESPN.com AFC West blogger Bill Williamson, ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini, ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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- Tim Tebow: On A Mission DVD