The first year of Broncos QB Peyton Manning's five-year, $96M contract is “guaranteed for $18 million, but another $40 million will be guaranteed if he passes a physical” showing his neck is sound after the first year, according to an NFL source cited by Klis & Legwold of the DENVER POST. If Manning passes that neck exam, another $20M “will be guaranteed in 2013 and an additional $20 million will be guaranteed for 2014.” If he fails the physical “for a reason other than the neck injury, the money will still be guaranteed.” The remaining money in the contract, which is “not guaranteed, would be $38 million through 2015 and 2016, when Manning would be 41 years old.” Klis & Legwold note Manning “clearly made concessions for his neck issue.” Manning said of his new team, "They've got to be protected. That's why the whole medical -- I was as open book as I could be.” It appears Manning “made some concession in his deal with the Broncos as his first-year guarantee was lowered 32 percent compared to his previous deal with the Colts” (DENVER POST, 3/21).
THE PLAYERS: In Denver, Mike Klis writes Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen “came through Tuesday,” and he is “one reason Manning chose the Broncos from a list of at least 10 teams.” Bowlen at Manning’s introductory news conference yesterday said, "This is obviously a huge step in the right direction. The only question I have is how long will it last? I mean, he's the real deal. If I can get four or five or six years out of him, that's going to be a huge thing for this organization” (DENVER POST, 3/21). ESPN.com’s Rick Reilly wrote the reason Manning signed with the Broncos “has everything to do with one man,” Exec VP/Football Operations John Elway. The move was “all about Elway and what he wants and what he doesn't want” (ESPN.com, 3/20). USA TODAY’s Jarrett Bell writes Elway’s presence “undoubtedly is part of the equation when Manning says that one of the reasons he chose Denver is because he saw the organization as a good fit” (USA TODAY, 3/21). In Denver, Woody Paige writes Manning “was comfortable” with coach John Fox, Elway and Bowlen, and he “was comfortable after visiting the Broncos first” (DENVER POST, 3/21). FOXSPORTS.com noted Elway “has proven to be as shrewd and gutsy an executive as he was a quarterback.” No matter how this “ultimately turns out for the Broncos, no matter how many more years Manning can last or how healthy he’ll be, Elway drew on his legacy as a player without allowing it to interfere with his legacy as an executive.” He “thought big, went bold and staked his reputation as a team-builder on one of the few players of any era whose accomplishments could match his own” (FOXSPORTS.com, 3/20). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said Elway “just added to his legacy” by bringing in Manning (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 3/20).
THE STRATEGY: In N.Y., Andrew Mason writes for all the "private planes, car rides and elegant dinners, the Broncos’ successful pursuit of Manning was defined by three phone calls." The first was “from Fox to Manning on the evening of March 7, just hours after Manning’s emotional farewell news conference.” Fox said, “We kind of felt it out -- what to do, how to do it, because he had obviously never done that before.” That conversation “began the Broncos’ soft sell to Manning,” and it “continued when the sides met at Broncos headquarters on March 9 and again last Friday at Duke University, where Manning worked out for the team.” Mason writes, “Given Manning’s discomfort with the situation, the tactic proved logical” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21).