Peyton Manning back for 18th season, signs contract
The Associated Press
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Peyton Manning has passed his physical and signed his revised contract Thursday.
“We’re glad to work something out with Peyton so that he will be part of our team this season,” general manager John Elway said.
The five-time MVP agreed to a $4 million pay cut to $15 million, but he can earn all of it back through incentives, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details weren’t publicized.
He’d get $2 million each for winning the AFC title and the Super Bowl.
Manning mulled retirement after the Broncos’ playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts. But he determined he still had the health and hunger to keep playing at age 39 and keep pursuing another Super Bowl title.
Manning, who won a title with the Colts in 2006, met with Elway a few weeks ago after taking some time to decompress from an arduous season and told him he wasn’t ready to retire. Elway asked him to take a pay cut and the sides hashed out a new deal Wednesday.
The deal was contingent on his passing his physical.
Every year, the Broncos medical staff takes a look at his surgically repaired neck to make sure there’s not any degeneration in the discs above and below the ones that were fused in 2011.
Manning didn’t meet with reporters after visiting team headquarters to get a clean bill of health and put his signature on the revised contract, which still calls for him to make $19 million in 2016.
Manning, who turns 39 on March 24, will return to Denver for the start of offseason workouts on April 13. Then, it’s time to adapt to new coach Gary Kubiak’s West Coast offense and continue his pursuit of a second Super Bowl trophy.
Along the way, he’ll almost certainly pad his thick Hall of Fame credentials by breaking Brett Favre’s records for most career passing yards and most regular season wins.
“We’re just excited to have him back,” said running back C.J. Anderson, who came off the bench at midseason last year to earn a Pro Bowl berth. “Of course, he just wants to go out there and win that ring. And we’re just trying to go out there and help him win it.
“I can’t wait to get to work with him and have a full season with him. And if he said he’s mentally and physically ready to play that doesn’t mean it’s at a sub-par level. It means it’s at a high level.”
Reminiscent of Favre’s annual flirtations with retirement, this saga plodded along as the Broncos and Manning’s agent Tom Condon reworked the contract.
The $4 million savings won’t drastically change Denver’s free agency plans. It gives Elway about $20 million to work with, but much of that will go to his own restricted free agents and a large draft class.
After dealing with a nagging thigh injury that hampered his performance down the stretch, Manning worked out this offseason in New Orleans with physical trainer Mackie Shilstone, renowned for helping athletes extend the twilight of their careers.
On Feb. 12, Manning flew to Denver in team owner Pat Bowlen’s jet to meet with Elway, CEO Joe Ellis and Kubiak. He also huddled with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who replaced Adam Gase, Manning’s co-pilot in Denver’s offense who followed John Fox to Chicago.
Kubiak has designed mainly West Coast offenses throughout his career that often require the quarterback to line up under center and roll out. Mobility has never been Manning’s forte; he’s been most comfortable making quick throws out of the shotgun in recent years.
Yet, Kubiak said it’s “easy to build a playbook” for Manning and was eager to mesh their styles.
Manning is all in. Recently, he remarked, “Aside maybe from Tubby Raymond’s Delaware Blue Hen Wing-T offense, I feel pretty comfortable playing in any offense.”
Manning has led the Broncos to the best record in the NFL in each of his three seasons in Denver following his tearful exit from Indianapolis so the Colts could draft Andrew Luck with the top pick.
Each time, the Broncos unraveled in the playoffs: a 35-point Super Bowl loss to Seattle and two stunning home flops following first-round byes.
Manning is 179-77 in the regular season. His nine one-and-out playoff performances are about the only blot on a career that features an unprecedented five MVP honors but half as many rings as brother Eli.
Manning owns most of the significant QB records and is 2,148 yards shy of breaking Favre’s career yardage record of 71,838. He’s also nine victories short of breaking Favre’s record of 186 career wins.
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