The resolution of where Manning, one of the most high-profile free agents in pro football history, will play next immediately rippled through the ranks of NFL quarterbacks. The Broncos seem intent on trading quarterback Tim Tebow and speculation immediately focused on the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars. A trade to either team would send Tebow back to the state where he won a Heisman Trophy and two collegiate national championships at the University of Florida.
Manning had narrowed his choices to the Broncos, Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers. He informed Broncos front office executive John Elway, the franchise’s Hall of Fame quarterback and two-time Super Bowl winner, on Monday morning that he planned to play in Denver. Other teams also received word of Manning’s decision, a person familiar with the deliberations said.
Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, was working to apply the finishing touches to a contract with the Broncos. No last-minute breakdown in negotiations was expected because the teams on Manning’s list of finalists understood that it would take a deal in the range of $90 million over five seasons to sign him, according to the person close to the situation.
“I’m happy that he made a decision [and] he chose Denver,” Broncos running back Willis McGahee told SiriusXM NFL Radio. “It’s a great place to play and the fans are going to really embrace him when he comes in. I think it just took our team to [another] level with him saying he’s coming to Denver.”
The Titans lost their bid to bring Manning back to the state where he played in college for the University of Tennessee.
John Elway said at the news conference that current Broncos starting QB Tim Tebow took the news of Manning’s decision to play at Denver with class. As AP explained:
Broncos executive John Elway says Tim Tebow was disappointed but very positive when they talked about Denver’s plans to sign Peyton Manning.
Speaking Tuesday at a news conference to introduce the 11-time Pro Bowl selection as the newest Bronco, Elway said Tebow’s response was typical of the exciting young quarterback.
Elway said Tebow was “very positive. He’s like, ‘We’re talking about Peyton Manning. I understand what you’re doing.’”
Tebow turned Denver around last season but misfired on passes and was often more effective as a runner. Manning is one the best QBs in league history and won a Super Bowl in 2007.
Elway didn’t say exactly what will happen to Tebow but, “It would be our goal for us to get (Tebow) in the best situation possible.”
David Garrard and Alex Smith also found their fortunes changed by Manning’s decision, as teams that lost out on Manning sought to shore up their quartback prospects. As Cindy Boren reported:
All over the NFL, the final pieces are falling in place for other quarterbacks — particularly for David Garrard and Alex Smith, if not yet for Tim Tebow.
The Miami Dolphins, after losing out to Matt Flynn and Manning, found someone who, like Manning, missed the 2011 season. They signed Garrard, who was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars just days before the season
and then chose to have back surgery. Garrard got a one-year deal from Miami.
“At least he’s in a position to compete for a starting job,” Al Irby, Garrard’s agent, told the Miami Herald. “I think Miami got themselves a great quarterback.”
Smith, left dangling as a free agent by the San Francisco 49ers as they dallied with Manning, is still a free agent. He visited the Dolphins and presumably will re-sign with the 49ers, who — doh! — need a quarterback after losing out on Manning. Smith isn’t a terrible option; he did lead the team to a 13-3 record and an overtime loss in the NFC Championship game.
It seems as if it might be difficult, but Smith has been through worse in San Francisco, as Gwen Knapp points out, and the damage with the 49ers isn’t irreparable, Matt Maiocco writes. The Niners offer Smith the best opportunity in 2012 and team CEO Jed York says the ball is in his court. “We have a contract on the table, and it's up to him,” York said (via Comcast SportsNet Bay Area). “We'd like for him to be here, and we'll see where it goes.”
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