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DENVER (AP) — The big deal is done. Peyton Manning is a Denver Bronco.
A person familiar with negotiations says that Manning and the Broncos completed his five-year contract worth about $96 million on Tuesday morning.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because Manning is to be introduced at a news conference at Broncos headquarters later.
The agreement ends a wild chase for perhaps the most valued free agent in the history of the NFL, a quarterback who has won an unprecedented four league MVP awards and took the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007.
It also represents a huge coup for Broncos executive and Hall of Fame QB John Elway, and could spell the end of the Denver career of Tim Tebow, last year’s quarterbacking sensation.
Turns out Tebowmania may have just been a fad in the Mile High City.
ESPN and the NFL Network first reported on the completion of the Manning deal.
Manning called Elway on Monday and told him that he had chosen Denver over the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers, his other final picks. The Broncos and Manning’s agent then hashed out the contract details.
“I congratulate Peyton as he heads to a tremendous organization in the Denver Broncos. We wish him nothing but the best as he continues his Hall of Fame career,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday.
With the 35-year-old Manning recovering from a string of neck surgeries, Irsay released him two weeks ago rather than pay a $28 million bonus.
But plenty of teams still believed Manning has the ability to be the kind of leader who guided Indy to 12 wins a season from 2001-10.
Elway and company beat them all out. The man who led the Broncos to two Super Bowl titles in the late 1990s, and now serves as Denver’s vice president of football operations, Elway never sounded all that convinced Tebow was the answer at the league’s most important position. He could now trade the hugely popular quarterback, who energized the Broncos in a run to the playoffs last season but also was plagued by erratic play.
If so, expect the Broncos and Denver to be more upbeat about getting Manning than downcast over potentially losing Tebow.
“There’s a lot to be excited about,” Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers said Monday when asked about Manning. “Just being on his team is going to make you want to play better.”
Although no starting QB has ever earned a Super Bowl ring for two different teams, every day at the Broncos’ headquarters, Manning will at least see the two Lombardi Trophies in the lobby that Elway won — when he was 37 and 38.
Several Broncos predicted the free agency floodgates will swing wide open once Manning officially joins the team.
“I think we’ll sign some guys, probably a few guys, like Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, guys waiting to see what Peyton was going to do,” Ayers said. “Defensive guys want to play with a lead, and I’m pretty sure guys are going to assume Peyton will put up points in this offense, we have some weapons.”
With Manning joining the Broncos, oddsmakers in Las Vegas immediately made Denver one of the top choices to win the Super Bowl next season, which will be played in Manning’s hometown of New Orleans.