7:59pm: Manning can earn $2MM for winning the AFC Championship Game and $2MM for winning the Super Bowl, according to Legwold and Mortensen. Achieving those milestones would bring Manning back to his originally scheduled salary of $19MM for 2015. Manning’s 2016 base of $19MM remains in tact, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com (on Twitter).
4:38pm: According to Mortensen and Legwold (Twitter links), the two sides have agreed to terms on the new deal, pending a physical and the formal signing of the contract tomorrow. The duo adds that Manning’s incentives are tied to winning the AFC championship game and the Super Bowl, which makes sense — for incentives to not count against the team’s cap, they can’t have been achieved the previous year, so tying them to playoff performance rather than individual performance was expected.
3:41pm: The Broncos initially proposed a more severe pay cut to Manning, sources tell Mike Klis of the Denver Post. It doesn’t seem as if his contract will be altered significantly, however – Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that the quarterback will have the opportunity to earn the lost $4MM back in incentives, and the deal isn’t expected to change the team’s approach to free agency.
2:35pm: According to the full report from Mortensen and Legwold, the two sides are still finalizing a few details of the agreement, which won’t become official until Manning takes a physical. That’s expected to happen within the next 24 hours.
2:10pm: Peyton Manning and the Broncos have yet to officially announce that the quarterback will return to the team for the 2015 season, but every development over the last several weeks has suggested he’ll be back. With the future Hall of Famer poised to continue his playing career, he’ll also take a modest pay cut for the coming year, according to Chris Mortensen and Jeff Legwold. The ESPN.com duo reports (via Twitter) that Manning is nearing an agreement with the team on a new deal that will pay him $15MM instead of $19MM for the 2015 season.
It’s not clear yet if reducing Manning’s base salary from $19MM to $15MM for 2015 is the only change being made to his contract. If so, his cap number will dip by $4MM as well, from $21.5MM to $17.5MM. However, the two sides may be making additional tweaks to the deal, or it may be torn up entirely in favor of a new agreement, so we’ll have to wait for further details.
Either way though, it appears as if the move will give the Broncos a little more spending flexibility with free agency around the corner. The team has already used its franchise tag on Demaryius Thomas, but still has a handful of key contributors eligible for unrestricted free agency, including tight end Julius Thomas, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, safety Rahim Moore, and guard Orlando Franklin. It remains to be seen how Denver will use its cap savings, but presumably Manning would like the team to bring back his tight end, if possible — Thomas has caught 24 touchdowns from the former MVP over the last two seasons.
Manning’s current contract runs through the 2016 season, with one additional year that features a $19MM base salary and $21.5MM cap hit, identical to the current 2015 figures. Presumably, if the Broncos want to reduce the quarterback’s salary for 2015, they may want to do the same for the following season, though that may end up being a moot point if Manning decides this will be the final year of his playing career.