Peyton Manning is set to officially land in Denver after the Broncos and Manning agreed on a five-year, $96 million contract Tuesday.
Manning will be introduced at a 3 p.m. ET news conference.
Signing Manning means the Broncos will likely look to trade Tim Tebow. It also could lead to Denver courting former Colts teammates of Manning, including free agents in center Jeff Saturday, tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Brandon Stokley.
Manning, released by Indianapolis on March 7 after 14 seasons with the Colts, worked out for the Broncos, Titans and 49ers as he narrowed his potential destinations to those three teams. He had previously told the Dolphins, Cardinals and Seahawks, among others, that he would be signing elsewhere.
“I congratulate Peyton as he heads to a tremendous organization in the Denver Broncos,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said. “We wish him nothing but the best as he continues his Hall of Fame career.”
With Titans owner Bud Adams putting on a full-court press to bring the former University of Tennessee star back to the state, Broncos officials flew to Durham, N.C. on Friday to meet with Manning and have team doctors conduct a physical.
The contract reflects the looming risk for both sides with $18 million in 2012 being the only guaranteed money in the deal. However, if Manning passes a physical in March 2013 and remains on the roster, he could make as much as $58 million in the first two years of the contract.
Manning turns 36 on Saturday.
Factors that contributed to choosing Denver include his respect for Elway and Fox, and the Denver Post reported that quality of life in Colorado for his wife Ashley and infant twins along with his friendship with Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton played a role.
Manning is still working to regain his full arm strength as the nerves in his neck regenerate, but he did pass physicals from all three of the final teams he was considering. He is expected to begin working out at the Broncos’ facilities soon. However, the collective bargaining agreement prevents Manning from doing any supervised on-field work with his new team until May 2, the week after the NFL Draft, although player-organized workouts away from team facilities can be arranged and are expected.
Had he signed with Tennessee, Manning would have stayed in the AFC South. Meanwhile, San Francisco plays host to the Giants next season. Joining the Broncos means Manning will not face the Colts or younger brother Eli Manning next season. Denver is slated to play the NFC East teams in 2013.
Meanwhile, Tebow went 7-4 as a starter and led the Broncos to the AFC West title and a playoff victory over Pittsburgh last season. But serious questions remain about his ability to progress as a passer, and the Broncos had to drastically alter their offense to suit Tebow’s style.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who were considered a potential destination for the former University of Florida star, recently signed Chad Henne to push 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert.
The Miami Dolphins, who were spurned by Manning and Matt Flynn in free agency, are another potential destination, as are the Cleveland Browns, who were trumped by the Washington Redskins in their effort to move up in next month’s draft to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
The vastly different styles of the two quarterbacks, and the media attention, would make it difficult for Tebow and Manning to coexist in Denver.
With Manning, Denver will return to a pro-style offense, and could look to bring in a few former teammates with Indianapolis undergoing a massive roster overhaul. While Reggie Wayne re-signed with the Colts and fellow wide receiver Pierre Garcon signed with the Redskins, Saturday andClark are still free agents.
Manning left the Colts with 141 wins, 399 passing touchdowns and a staggering 54,828 passing yards during his 208 regular-season starts. He’s been named the NFL MVP four times, and led the Colts to eight division titles, two Super Bowl appearances and one NFL Championship.
One of the next questions will be what jersey number he wears. Manning made the No. 18 iconic with the Colts. The number is retired in honor of Frank Tripucka, but he told the Post last week that “it would be an honor” if Manning wore his No. 18. Manning also wore No. 16 at the University of Tennessee.