No. 18 back for 18th season: Peyton Manning to sign revised contract, take physical Thursday

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FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2015, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning stretches prior to the team's NFL divisional playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Denver. A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Manning will return for a fourth season in Denver and 18th in the NFL. Manning will reduce his salary from $19 million to $15 million in 2015, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement. However, he can make up all of the $4 million pay cut by reaching certain performance benchmarks. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)


FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2014, file photo, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning passes against the Buffalo Bills during an NFL football game in Denver. A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Manning will return for a fourth season in Denver and 18th in the NFL. Manning will reduce his salary from $19 million to $15 million in 2015, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement. However, he can make up all of the $4 million pay cut by reaching certain performance benchmarks. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)


ENGLEWOOD, Colorado — Peyton Manning has unfinished business.

After taking his physical and signing his revised contract Thursday at Broncos headquarters, he'll head home until the Broncos reconvene April 13 for the start of offseason workouts.

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 passing career yards and most regular season wins.

Weeks of speculation about the five-time MVP's future ended Wednesday with word that he's returning for an 18th season in the NFL and fourth in Denver.

A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that Manning will take a $4 million pay cut, from $19 million to $15 million, but that he can make it all back through performance incentives. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement of the deal.

Manning's $19 million salary in 2016 — should he decide to play at age 40 — stays intact. That's the final season of the five-year contract he signed in 2012.

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, when he tries to become the oldest QB to win a Super Bowl.

"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."

Manning, who won a title with the Colts in 2006, met with Broncos general manager John Elway a few weeks ago after taking some time to decompress from an arduous season and told him he wasn't ready to retire.

Reminiscent of Favre's annual flirtations with retirement, however, 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 new coach Gary 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 calling card; 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.

Yet, 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.


AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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