NFL free agency at Dove Valley has never been this fun, this exciting, this stressful.
The Broncos are one of six teams that are considered alive in the pursuit of quarterback Peyton Manning. The others are Miami, Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee and Houston, according to a source. It's possible Manning could make his decision by the opening of free agency at 2 p.m. today.
To help put in perspective what the Broncos are trying to acquire, look at Manning's won-lost record during his past nine active seasons with the Indianapolis Colts: 10-6, 12-4, 12-4, 14-2, 12-4, 13-3, 12-4, 14-2 and 10-6. Average nine-year record: 12-4.
And at least one of those losses each year came at season's end, when the highest-possible playoff seed was clinched and Manning barely played.
Photos: Peyton Manning released by Indianapolis Colts
In year 10 of that run, 2011, Manning didn't play because of a neck injury. The Colts' record last year: 2-14. So bad, they qualified for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
History says that Peyton Manning, all by himself, can turn the Broncos into a 12-win team. If he's healthy. The flip side is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback has never gone to another team and won another Super Bowl. Not Joe Namath or Johnny Unitas. Not Joe Montana, Kurt Warner or Brett Favre.
But in sports, unprecedented feats are accomplished every year, if not every week. The Broncos are daring to dream that Manning can make history.
During his visit with the Broncos on Friday, Manning was told by coach John Fox that the four-time league MVP would be given the freedom to run his patented hurry-up offense, according to an NFL source. Fox and new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio would build up the other side of the ball.
The hurry-up offense in altitude? Opposing defenses might be tempted to say "No mas!" in the halftime locker room.
And the Broncos have moved on past the dream state. They started the process Monday of putting money where their hopes lie. Like several other teams involved in the Manning sweepstakes, the Broncos were in preliminary contract discussions with agent Tom Condon, according to multiple NFL sources.
Talks are no more than preliminary, though, because Manning has not yet decided where he will finish his career. ESPN reported Monday that, according to sources, Manning met with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and other staff members in Indianapolis.
Manning is scheduled to meet with Titans coach Mike Munchak today.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have other free-agent needs. They will be looking for a starting safety. They may not be so desperate to find a starting-caliber linebacker or defensive tackle after their own D.J. Williams and Ryan McBean filed a lawsuit Monday against the NFL that asked Denver District Court to vacate their six-game suspensions.
During a recent StarCaps case about a banned substance, players were allowed to play for two seasons while their lawsuit was tied up in the court system.
The Broncos did place tenders on all five of their restricted free agents Monday. McBean and wide receiver Matt Willis received "same round" tenders, worth a $1.26 million salary. Punter Britton Colquitt, offensive tackle Chris Clark and running back Lance Ball received exclusive-right — more than two years of service but less than three — free-agent tenders of $540,000.
The Broncos also have 17 unrestricted free agents, including starters Brian Dawkins, Daniel Fells, Brodrick Bunkley, Marcus Thomas, Joe Mays, Eddie Royal and Spencer Larsen, and backup linebackers and special-teams standouts Wesley Woodyard and Mario Haggan.
Mike Klis: 303-954-1055 or firstname.lastname@example.org