Peyton Manning chooses Denver Broncos 

click to enlarge Peyton Manning, who was recently cut by the Indianapolis Colts, will resume his illustrious career with the Denver Broncos, the National Football League’s website reported on Monday. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images file photo
  • Peyton Manning, who was recently cut by the Indianapolis Colts, will resume his illustrious career with the Denver Broncos, the National Football League’s website reported on Monday.

Quarterback Peyton Manning's whirlwind free-agent tour has ended with the four-time NFL MVP instructing his agent to work out a contract with the Denver Broncos, according to a report by ESPN.

The sides had discussed the parameters of five-year, $95 million contract during their initial meeting March 9, according to the report, and a finalized deal is believed to be mostly a formality.

However, there are still details to be worked out around guaranteed money and protecting the Broncos in the event Manning isn't able to return from his neck injury, which required four procedures over a 19-month span and sidelined him for the entire 2011 season. Manning has displayed good arm strength during recent workouts and is expected to be ready to play next season.

Signing Manning means the Broncos will likely look to trade Tim Tebow. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who were considered a potential destination for the former University of Florida star, recently signed Chad Henne to back up 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert.

Manning, who was 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 not be joining their franchises.

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.

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 after the contract is finalized. 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 volunteer player-organized workouts can be arranged.

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.

Peyton Manning's agent, Tom Condon, also represents Alex Smith, who turned down a three-year contract offer from the 49ers and visited with the Dolphins on Sunday. If San Francisco can't lure Smith back, the 49ers would have to scramble to add a veteran to compete with 2011 second-round pick Colin Kaepernick.

Tennessee is in much better shape, with veteran Matt Hasselbeck returning and pushed by promising 2011 first-round pick Jake Locker.

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 seriously alter their offense to suit Tebow's style.

With Manning, Denver will return to a more conventional 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, center Jeff Saturday is a free agent.

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