Peyton Manning's return to the Denver Broncos for 2015 is now official, the team announced on Thursday. The future Hall of Famer has passed his annual physical, the final checkmark in paving the way for him to play next season. Per a report by ESPN's Chris Mortensen and Jeff Legwold on Wednesday, Manning has agreed to a $4 million pay cut, reducing his salary from $19 million to $15 million. That will make him the sixth-highest paid quarterback in 2015, according to cash spent on base salary.
"We're glad to work something out with Peyton so that he will be part of our team this season," GM/EVP John Elway acknowledged after the official announcement. Head coach Gary Kubiak added that he is "excited Peyton is returning" and he is looking forward to working with him starting next month at offseason workouts.
The restructuring was a key part of Manning's return to the team, giving the Broncos additional cap space and cash as they look to get busy during the upcoming free-agent period. Prior to the move, the Broncos had $15.5 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap, so now they will have nearly $20 million with which to work.
The team had a deadline of March 9 to complete the revision of his deal, which is the date that his 2015 salary was set to become fully guaranteed. The new contract will not be finalized until Manning passes a physical exam, which is expected to happen in the next 24 hours, team sources told Mortensen and Legwold.
Manning performed well again last year, completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 4,727 yards, 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, good for a passer rating of 101.5. However, a torn quad reduced his effectiveness in December and the postseason, raising questions about Manning's future. He'll be 39 next season, practically a geriatric by NFL standards. Still, with an offseason to recover, Manning will give it another go.
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Now with their quarterback nearly committed for another season, the Broncos can turn their attention to free agency. The Broncos applied the franchise tag to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas while tight end Julius Thomas is set to hit the open market. Demaryius finished the season with 1,619 receiving yards while Julius led all tight ends in touchdowns with 12.
Since joining the Broncos in 2012, Manning has led the team to three straight AFC West division championships, two AFC title games and Super Bowl XLVIII.
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