Peyton Manning felt he was physically and mentally ready to return as the Denver Broncos quarterback for the 2015.
All it took was for the two sides to make it work financially.
They did that Wednesday with the New Orleanian reportedly agreeing to take a $4 million pay cut to $15 million and come back for his fourth season with the Broncos and his 18th in the NFL.
“I’m excited to get to work,” Manning, the NFL’s only five-time MVP, told the Denver Post on Wednesday. “I look forward to making 2015 a special year.”
Archie Manning said during a TV interview during the Pelicans game on Wednesday that his son made a well thought-out decision.
“Peyton wanted to play again,” he said. “But at his age it’s always best to sit down and kind of evaluate things.
“He feels good now and wants play some more, and they’ve worked things out with the Broncos. So why not?”
Manning’s decision-making process included spending three weeks with local fitness guru Mackie Shilstone, who gave him a through physical evaluation.
Shilstone on Wednesday said he could not reveal details of the evaluation, but felt confident Manning made the right choice.
“He’s going into the Hall of Fame regardless,” Shilstone said. “I’m just honored that Peyton came to me to help make his decision.”
Manning is scheduled to take a mandatory physical Thursday morning and have one last meeting the Denver General Manager John Elway before signing his contact.
While the pay cut is the first of Manning’s career, it was reportedly done with the understanding the Broncos apply the savings in the free agent market, giving the team an estimated $20 million in cap room.
However, Manning can make the money back in incentive clauses, such as taking Denver back to the Super Bowl as he did in 2013.
The Broncos have won 13, 13 and 12 regular-season games in Manning’s three seasons with the team.
Manning, who turns 39 on March 24, will be the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL next season.
Among other accomplishments, he is the league’s career touchdown passes leader with 530. He needs eight more victories and 2,317 yards to surpass Brett Favre to become the career leader in those categories.
However, Manning’s playing future seemed in question after this season which ended with a loss to Indianapolis in the divisional round of the playoffs, after which it was revealed that Manning had played the final month with a torn quad which severely limited his throwing ability.
Of even more concern was the condition of Manning’s neck on which he had four procedures done in 2011, causing him to miss that season and eventually be released by the Colts, with whom he had spent the first 14 season of his career.
Manning had even indicated after the playoff loss he was contemplating retirement. Complicating things was the fact the Broncos parted company with their coach, John Fox and subsequently hiring Gary Kubiak.
But after coming home to New Orleans to consult and train with Shilstone, Manning determined he did want to continue playing, something he told Elway and the other Broncos brass last month after a visit to the team headquarters.
In fact, Manning told the Post he wants to play in 2016 as well.
With Manning taking a pay cut, the Saints’ Drew Brees becomes the league’s highest-paid quarterback for next season with a base salary of $18.5 million.
Saints coach Sean Payton said during last month’s combine he does not think the team will ask Brees to restructure in order to get down to the salary cap.