Peyton Manning

Magic Johnson Joins Ownership Group Bidding To Buy Broncos

The Broncos have narrowed their prospective owner list to five, according to Mike Klis of 9News, who adds the first of those groups — the one fronted by New Jersey Devils owner and Philadelphia 76ers managing partner Josh Harris — met with Broncos executives and bank and transaction lawyers Thursday.

Harris’ group is believed to now have a big name attached. Magic Johnson has joined the group, according to Sportico (on Twitter). This is interesting considering Johnson partners with another of the Broncos’ ownership candidates — Todd Boehly — in a consortium that owns the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The NBA icon and former Lakers president of basketball operations has a 2.3% stake in the Dodgers, making a $50MM investment. The Broncos are expected to be sold for more than $4.5 billion, which will shatter an American sports record. The NFL has sought minority representation in the next Broncos ownership group, though Harris’ contingent is not believed to be the favorites. Walmart chairman Rob Walton is believed to be the frontrunner, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes his group and Boehly’s will visit soon (Twitter link). This process remains on track to be resolved before the season, RapSheet adds.

John Elway and Peyton Manning have been mentioned as interested parties, but Klis adds neither are expected to join a group until the bidding is settled. Elway remains interested in an advisory role with the eventual owner. The former Broncos GM currently serves as a consultant to successor George Paton.

A second round of bids has not yet taken place, per Klis. The highest bid must be accepted, with the winner then needing to be approved by three quarters of NFL owners. The last NFL sale ended with David Tepper‘s Panthers acquisition being approved by a 32-0 margin. Harris, 57, is well known in NFL circles, having bought the 5% stake in the Steelers that Tepper sold upon buying the Panthers.

Rob Walton Frontrunner To Buy Broncos

The list of prospective Broncos owners has narrowed to five, according to Troy Renck of Denver7. An NFL-record bid should be expected here, and the winning price is set to smash the previous mark David Tepper set four years ago when he bought the Panthers for $2.275 billion.

Rob Walton is believed to have submitted an opening bid of more than $4 billion, according to Josh Kosman of the New York Post. A Walmart heir worth more than $70 billion, Walton, 77, is the favorite to acquire the AFC West franchise, per Kosman and Renck (Twitter link). The highest bid must be accepted, with the sale then going to a league vote.

The Broncos are only accepting bids north of $4 billion at this point, with Kosman adding the price is expected to be between $4.5-$5 billion. Even a $4 billion price would exceed the cost for any American sports franchise by a wide margin. The Brooklyn Nets were sold for $3.3 billion, representing the current high-water mark. The prospective buyer list has been narrowed to five, Renck adds. New Jersey Devils owner and Philadelphia 76ers managing partner Josh Harris remains in the running, with Lakers and Dodgers investor Todd Boehly heading a third ownership group that remains in contention, according to Sportico.

The Broncos went on the market in February; they are set to begin hosting candidates by early May, Renck adds. Team CEO Joe Ellis has said he wants a new owner in place before the 2022 season starts. Both John Elway and Peyton Manning have been linked to interest in being part of separate ownership groups. The latest reports have not mentioned either Hall of Famer, but Ellis said at the owners meetings the two are not out of the mix altogether.

They’ve inquired is what I would tell you,” Ellis said, via Mike Klis of 9News. “Certainly, I think either one would be well-accepted by a group if a group or a potential owner would want to include them in the group. We’ll see where that shakes out.”

This Date In Transactions History: Peyton Manning Retires From NFL

Prepare to feel old, because it’s been six years since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. In 2016, the quarterback left the game as a two-time Super Bowl champion, the NFL’s all-time leader in total wins, and one of the sport’s greatest quarterbacks of all time. 

Manning spent the first 14 seasons of his remarkable career with the Colts. Then, came his neck surgery in 2011, followed by spinal fusion surgery. He’d miss out on the entire ’11 campaign, snapping his streak of 208 consecutive regular season starts. After months of rehab, Manning said he could barely throw a football ten yards. Many feared that he was finished at this point, but Manning disagreed. Ditto for the Broncos, who were happy to furnish him with a lavish contract in 2012.

The Broncos backstopped Manning by drafting Brock Osweiler in the second round of the 2012 draft, but it’d be a while before he took the reins. Instead, Manning went on to enjoy a four-year stint in Denver. He completed 66.5% of his passes for 17,112 yards and 140 touchdowns against 53 interceptions. Along the way, he picked up three of Pro Bowl nods, two First-Team All-Pro selections, yet another MVP award, and yet another Super Bowl ring.

When all was said and done, Manning set new watermarks for total wins by a QB (200), passing yards (71,940), and passing touchdowns (539). He also set the record for most single-season TD tosses (55; 2013). All in all, the No. 1 overall pick of the 1998 draft managed 14 Pro Bowl bids, seven First-Team All-Pro selections, and five MVP trophies. Needless to say, he could have called it quits in 2011 and still walked away as one of the NFL’s GOATs. That’s doubly true when considering his lifetime earnings of $250MM+ — not counting his piles of endorsement checks. Still, Manning wanted to go out on his terms, and he did just that.

Manning wasn’t at his personal best in his final season, but he was good enough while teamed with the league’s most feared defense. A few weeks after hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, Manning closed the book on his Hall of Fame career.

Byron Allen, Alec Gores Named As Candidates For Broncos’ Ownership

Not long after the Broncos were officially put up for sale, the first two candidates to purchase the team have been named. According to multiple reports, media mogul Byron Allen and billionaire Alec Gores have plans to place a bid on the franchise.

[Related: Broncos Officially Up For Sale]

Allen, whose bidding intention was first reported by Bloomberg, has been in the national spotlight dating back to his time on The Tonight Show. He has since acquired dozens of national and regional media outlets, raising the profile of the Allen Media Group, which he fully owns. The 60-year-old’s net worth is estimated to be $450MM, but he is said to be assembling a “who’s who” of fellow investors from across the business, sports and entertainment industries, though none of them have been identified as of now.

Allen’s name being linked to the Broncos is nothing new. As Troy Renck of Denver7 writes, he said, “[NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell and [Patriots owner] Robert Kraft came to me in November 2019 and asked me to take a good look at buying an NFL team. After serious consideration, I strongly believe I can effectuate positive changes”. Those “changes” are a reference to the fact that Allen, if successful, would become the NFL’s first Black owner.

The desire for added diversity in NFL ownership is a stated goal of Gooddell’s in this bidding process. “We would love to see a diverse owner of the team, whether that’s a person of color, or a female, or a Black man, we think that would be a really positive step for us. And something we’ve encouraged”, he said.

Allen’s interest in the Broncos isn’t simply because they are the only team up for sale, according to Mike Klis of 9News. “Oh my gosh. I love the Broncos“, he said in an interview. “And I have a great deal of respect for Pat Bowlen… I have an enormous respect for him and his family and what they’ve done… I wouldn’t get involved unless I believed I could grow on what they’ve built”. 

Gores, meanwhile, is at the head of a triumvirate of investors – the other two being Dean Metropoulos and Mat Ishbia – involved in the competing bid. The 69-year-old owns the Gores Group, which is based in Beverley Hills and “purchases and sells companies”, according to the original report of his interest in the L.A. Times. The three men are reportedly valued at $10B. Gores’ brother Tom currently owns the Detroit Pistons.

Former Broncos quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning are still believed to be involved in a bid, but not for a controlling share. Renck adds that “there is expected to be an additional minority-led group bidding as well”.

Any successful bid would require the majority owner to hold at least a 30% stake in the team, which would equate to a cost of $1.2B if the total sale price ends up at the estimated $4B mark.

Broncos To Be Sold

In July, when the lawsuit filed by two of Pat Bowlen‘s daughters challenging the validity of the Pat Bowlen Trust was dismissed, the sale of the Broncos became a real possibility. Since then, most of the reporting on the matter has indicated that the club would indeed be sold out of the Bowlen family, and we recently heard that the transaction could be completed by this spring.

So when team attorney Dan Reilly recently said that the trustees of the Pat Bowlen Trust would be moving forward with the “ownership transition process” (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk), it was simply a confirmation of the prevailing belief that the Broncos would soon be sold. Team president Joe Ellis also said that he would soon turn his attention to “transitioning ownership.”

Those comments were made in the wake of a court order regarding the right of first refusal agreement that Bowlen had entered into with Edgar Kaiser when the former purchased the team from the latter in 1984. As Mike Klis of 9News.com tweets, a Denver court has determined that the agreement is no longer valid or enforceable in any respect, and that it has terminated in its entirety. As such, the last real obstacle to a sale has been removed.

As expected, franchise icons Peyton Manning and John Elway will be involved in the process, as part of separate bidding groups (Twitter link via Troy Renck of Denver 7). Manning is said to be eyeing both a minority ownership stake as well as a role in the management of the team, and Elway — who served as the club’s GM from 2011-20 before being transitioned to a different role upon the hiring of George Paton last year — is reportedly interested in staying with the franchise in some capacity, whether as a part owner or something else.

However, Renck is clear that this will not be a popularity contest. The top bid must be accepted regardless of who makes it, and it has been reported that the sale will net around $4B or so. Per Ellis, the formal announcement regarding ownership will come shortly after the team announces its next head coach. The impending sale is not expected to be a deterrent for any HC candidate.

Latest On Broncos Ownership, Peyton Manning’s Involvement

The Broncos may or may not be up for sale in the near future. The lawsuit filed by two of deceased owner Pat Bowlen‘s daughters was dismissed by a joint motion over the summer, which seemed indicate that a resolution as to the future of the team had been agreed upon. However, Broncos CEO Joe Ellis has not yet indicated whether one of Bowlen’s seven children (most likely youngest daughter Brittany Bowlen) will become the franchise’s next controlling owner, or if the club will be sold.

“Regarding the future of the Denver Broncos’ organization, our No. 1 priority remains a timely, responsible and orderly determination of ownership,” Ellis said recently. “There are no changes with the operation of the team, which is completely focused on a successful 2021 season.”

As Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes, many club owners and other sources in the league believe the Broncos will be sold within the next year. The team is expected to net a cool $4B or so, which would be split among Bowlen’s children, and given the very public battle over controlling ownership, investors have been gearing up for a potential sale for some time.

Former Denver QB Peyton Manning, who was already said to be eyeing a role within the organization, has been in touch with several ownership groups, according to La Canfora. The NFL icon is reportedly interested in both a minority ownership stake as well as a role in the management of the team. Broncos exec John Elway would also like to stay with the franchise even if it’s sold.

Of course, Manning will have no shortage of opportunities to get back into the league, so it remains to be seen if a share of the Broncos and a voice in the club’s operations will be the route he chooses. Plus, the estate of previous owner Edgar Kaiser claims Bowlen gave Kaiser the right of first refusal if the team went up for sale again, which could obviously complicate matters.

One way or another, it does not sound as if high-profile, non-football candidates like Jay-Z and Jeff Bezos will be involved in this particular transaction.

Peyton Manning Discusses Potential Future Role With Broncos

Despite spending only four seasons in Denver, Peyton Manning established himself as a Broncos legend, with the QB guiding the organization to four division titles, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Super Bowl championship.

Since Manning decided to retire following the 2015 campaign, the Hall of Famer has still maintained a consistent presence within the organization, leading some to wonder if he’d ultimately take a role in the Broncos’ front office. While Manning has yet to officially rejoin the organization, he told Mike Klis of 9News in Denver that he’d certainly be interested in an official reunion.

“I am as interested in what’s going to happen as anybody because I care about it,” Manning said.“…I’ve gone on a year-to-year basis in this 2nd chapter. I’m going to try to do this, this year. I don’t go past that because you try different things and maybe you like it, maybe you don’t. I will always be a part of the Broncos and Colts organizations in some way. But I’m interested in what’s going to happen. I haven’t said no to anything officially forever. I’ve just said no to some things each year. The next year, maybe things change. So, who knows what will happen in that.”

Specifically, Manning was referring to the current squabble in Denver regarding ownership. We heard recently that the trial between several of the children of late Broncos owner Pat Bowlen‘s is off, and it could ultimately result in a sale of the organization. Manning would presumably prefer to see how that ordeal is resolved before he commits to an official role, but it certainly sounds like he’s receptive to some kind of gig down the road.

AFC Rumors: Adams, Manning, Broncos

Jets safety Jamal Adams has submitted a trade request and may well have issues with Adam Gase — months after voicing frustration with GM Joe Douglas listening to offers at last year’s trade deadline. However, Jets DC Gregg Williams came to the All-Pro’s defense Thursday.

He has to handle his contract,” Williams said, via the New York Daily News’ Manish Mehta. “He’ll do all that kind of stuff. … I’m hoping everything goes well. I love coaching him. And I got his back.

“… I think the world of him. I’ve had a chance to coach a lot of really good players. Some that are already in the Hall of Fame. And many others that are going to go in the Hall of Fame. And he’s going to have a legitimate chance staying healthy to be one of those guys later on that we’ll all talk about.”

The second-year Jets defensive boss added that he wants Adams to “feel good about being here.” Given the events of the past eight months, that will take some doing. Here is the latest from the AFC:

  • Were the Jets to trade Adams, they do have rookie third-rounder Ashtyn Davis as a candidate to replace him alongside contract-year starter Marcus Maye, Connor Hughes of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Jets were also interested in Tony Jefferson before he signed with the Ravens in 2017 and a month before they drafted Adams. Jefferson is back in free agency after Baltimore released him earlier this year. Eric Reid also remains unsigned, providing some options if the Jets seriously entertain trading their top player.
  • Bryce Callahan‘s injury altered the Broncos‘ cornerback plans last season, forcing slot dynamo Chris Harris to play almost exclusively on the outside. Callahan has recovered from his latest bout of foot trouble, and the Broncos are hoping to play him in the slot, per The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala. Denver still appears thin at corner, but Jhabvala adds the team hopes third-round rookie Michael Ojemudia can seize the outside corner job opposite A.J. Bouye. That may be difficult, however, with Vic Fangio using a complex scheme and the Broncos having seen multiple third-round corners (Brendan Langley and Isaac Yiadom) struggle in recent years.
  • Peyton Manning has said years ago he was close to signing with the Titans, but the Broncos won out for the future Hall of Fame quarterback. Discussing the fallout from Manning’s 2012 free agency, ex-Titans exec Mike Reinfeldt said the acclaimed passer’s timetable affected the Titans’ plans. “The only thing I wished had happened was that Peyton could have made the decision earlier,” Reinfeldt said, via The Athletic’s Mike Sando. “But I don’t know that he was in position to do so because of his health. … There is no magic way to build a team, but what you can’t do is get caught in between one plan and the other plan. That is what happened to us.” The Titans earmarking Manning money during the first week of free agency, and then waiting on the ex-Colt’s decision, caused them to miss out on pursuits of Mario Williams and Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Ben Grubbs, with Sando adding each was a target of then-GM Ruston Webster. Tennessee finished 6-10 in 2012 and would not post a winning season again until 2016.

NFC East Notes: Manning, Adams, Cowboys

Peyton Manning‘s decision to sign with the Broncos eight years ago changed the franchise’s trajectory, but the future Hall of Famer did not get the chance to strongly consider a team that would likely have been on his list. While it is not certain the Redskins would have beaten out the Broncos, the presence of Mike and Kyle Shanahan would have given Washington a key selling point. The then-free agent passer met with the Shanahans while in Denver to watch film, and Manning indicated he was “very impressed” with Kyle — then Washington’s OC. Mike Shanahan, then in his third year as Washington’s HC, confirmed the franchise was interested in Manning when the Colts released him on March 7, 2012. But in between Manning’s Colts exit and his Broncos commitment, the Redskins sent the Rams a monster haul for the No. 2 overall pick.

I had known Mike for a long time, played for him in a Pro Bowl, and we’ve stayed in touch, and so I felt comfortable talking to them,” Manning said in an expansive piece on his 2012 free agency by The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, Lindsay Jones and others (subscription required). “But they had made a trade for the second pick of the draft, which they ended up taking Robert Griffin III. So as soon as they made that trade, even Mike kind of knew that eliminated them. It just wasn’t going to make sense.”

The Redskins-Rams trade became official March 13 — three days after the Manning-Shanahans film session took place, per The Athletic — but the teams agreed to the deal March 9. Years later, John Elway informed his former head coach he believed the Redskins may have held more appeal than the Broncos ultimately presented in the Manning sweepstakes.

I think Peyton was disappointed,” Mike Shanahan said. “Kyle and I were kind of surprised that he still wanted to meet with us. I can remember talking with Elway one time not too long ago, a few years ago. He said, ‘Mike, do you realize that Peyton, I think, was going to go to your place? I think he really wanted to go to your place more than our place.’”

Shifting back to the current NFL landscape, here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • A report last week indicated the Cowboys reside on Jamal Adams‘ list of preferred trade destinations, and the Jets safety confirmed he will try to make a Dallas venture happen. In a short response to a fan, an in-transit Adams said he will try to maneuver his way to the Cowboys, via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The Jets have yet to indicate they will honor Adams’ trade request. Adams wants a monster extension, but were the fourth-year defender to be dealt to Dallas, he may not be as demanding for an new deal this year.
  • Although the Eagles re-signed Rodney McLeod and agreed to terms with Jalen Mills with the intention of moving him to safety, Geoff Mosher of InsidetheBirds.com views an Adams-to-Philadelphia path as an ideal match. The Eagles made a big splash at corner, giving Darius Slay a lucrative extension that essentially doubles as a two-year pact. But they remain $24MM-plus under the cap, providing intriguing flexibility on this front. However, the Jets having Adams under contract through 2021 gives them leverage in against the disgruntled defender.
  • With Dak Prescott signing his franchise tender, the Cowboys are now the only team with three players — Prescott, Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence — earning $20MM per year, per ESPN Stats & Info’s Evan Kaplan (on Twitter). Cooper’s deal averages $20MM per year, but the Cowboys can get out of it — if need be — fairly easily by 2022. Prescott is tied to a $31.4MM payment, and the Cowboys have barely three weeks to extend him.

Jets Didn’t Contact Peyton Manning

Shortly after the firing of Mike Maccagnan, it was widely rumored that the Jets had their sights set on Peyton Manning as a potential candidate to take over the GM job. However, Manning says he never heard from the club about the position (Twitter link via Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post). 

Nobody ever contacted me … And I’m not sure I was qualified anyway,” Manning said after playing a round of golf with Tiger Woods in Ohio.

There have been conflicting reports on Manning’s interest level in taking on a GM job. Recently, a source told Ralph Vacchiano of SNY that he would not want to pursue such an opportunity, but Manning has indicated in the past that he would want to consider GM openings. Either way, Manning won’t be the next GM of the Jets, despite his relationship with head coach Adam Gase.

Manning apparently isn’t on the Jets’ radar, but we know of five candidates who definitely are: Eagles VP of player personnel Joe Douglas, Seahawks co-director of player personnel Scott Fitterer, Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly, Vikings assistant GM George Paton, and Saints director of pro scouting Terry Fontenot.