Peyton Manning Wants to Play for the Denver Broncos

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Quarterback’s CAA agent begins negotiations with John Elway’s team; Tim Tebow probably will be traded.

Peyton Manning is on his way to becoming the new quarterback of the Denver Broncos, paving the way for the end of Tebowmania in the Mile High City.

ESPN broke the news Monday that the former Indianapolis Colts star, perhaps the most attractive free agent in NFL history, has begun contract negotiations with the Broncos.

Manning, who is coming off two serious neck surgeries and was released March 7 by the Colts -- just days before the team would have had to pay him a $28 million bonus -- called Broncos vp of football operation John Elway on Monday morning to tell him he wants to play in Denver, ESPN said.

Manning also phoned the San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans — two other teams he had worked out for — to inform them of his decision.

The quarterback’s agent, Tom Condon of CAA, will negotiate the details of a contract, thought to be in the neighborhood of $95 million for five years. Language designed to protect Denver in the event of Manning's inability to perform due to his neck problems will be addressed in the contract, ESPN said.

Manning, who has passed several medical exams, turns 36 on March 24. He led the Colts to a victory in the 2007 Super Bowl and has won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award a record four times, most recently in 2009, but sat out the entire 2011 season.

His decision to remain in the American Football Conference is a big win for CBS, which holds the broadcast rights to the AFC package of games.

With the brainy Manning soon to arrive in Denver, it looks as if Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow will be traded. The clean-cut TV ratings magnet came off the bench last season to rally Denver to a surprising AFC West title and a first-round playoff upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. But Elway never seemed sold on Tebow as a starter.

Tebow, a bruising runner but not much of a pocket passer, starred at the University of Florida — where he won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and led the Gators to a pair of national championships — and could draw interest from the Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the three NFL teams based in the Sunshine State.

The New England Patriots also could be interested, with Tebow serving as an intriguing backup to Tom Brady. The Patriots’ returning offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, was Denver’s head coach when the Broncos drafted Tebow with the 25th overall pick in 2010.

Tebow, 24, will enter the third year of a five-year contract this season and earn a guaranteed $1.2 million.