Peyton Manning has asked his agent to complete a deal with the Denver Broncos, ESPN reported on Monday, sending the four-time National Football League Most Valuable Player to a new team if talks succeed.
The report, citing unnamed sources, says former Indianapolis quarterback Manning spoke with Broncos vice president John Elway, a retired Super Bowl champion quarterback for Denver, about a five-year deal worth US$95 million.
“It’s crazy. It feels so surreal,” Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil said. “It is such a historic move for our organization. It’s going to be a great time.”
Tom Condon, Manning’s agent, must still finalize the deal, but the report said details were a formality and contract terms could be concluded in the next day or two.
Manning called Elway to tell him of his choice and he also called the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans, his other finalist choices among the clubs that wooed him, to inform them of his decision, according to the report.
The Broncos will not play either the Indianapolis Colts, the team Manning led to a Super Bowl title, or the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants, where Manning’s younger brother Eli is the quarterback, in this year’s season.
Manning, who will turn 36 on Saturday, was released by the Colts on March 7 after the team decided not to pay him a US$28 million bonus to pick up the final four years on his contract.
“Peyton Manning!!!!” former Denver running back Terrell Davis said on Twitter.
Manning, who missed the entire regular season last year after a fourth neck surgery, has been medically cleared to play by doctors.
However, the Colts did not want to risk health issues by Manning when they owned the first pick in next month’s NFL Draft and were set to select college quarterback Andrew Luck.
Manning went to visit the Broncos two days after he was dropped by the Colts and he conducted a workout for Elway on Friday last week in North Carolina.
Contract language to protect the Broncos in case Manning’s neck injury becomes an issue and guaranteed money compared with incentive payments for meeting production goals are among the key details remaining to be settled.
Manning has passed physicals for several teams, but told them that he still feels he can improve arm strength and endurance related to nerve regeneration in his neck.
Denver will add the third-best quarterback in NFL history behind Brett Favre and Dan Marino with 4,682 completions for 54,828 yards and 399 touchdowns and a Super Bowl title in 2007.
Denver reached the playoffs last season behind quarterback phenomenon Tim Tebow, who likely will be traded, according to the report.
While the Broncos have retired the No. 18 jersey Manning wore with the Colts, the 84-year-old first quarterback of the Broncos who wore the number in the 1960s, Frank Tripucka, has said he would be fine if Manning took the number out of retirement.
Manning will be among several Super Bowl champion quarterback legends who made their fame with one team, only to finish their career with another.
That list includes Joe Montana, with San Francisco and later Kansas City; Brett Favre with Green Bay and later Minnesota and the New York Jets; Johnny Unitas, with the Baltimore Colts and later San Diego; and Joe Namath, first with the New York Jets and later with the Los Angeles Rams.