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Reports: Peyton Manning agrees to $4M pay cut in return to Denver Broncos

By Johnny Hart
ESPNDenver.com
 
It seemed not to be a matter of “if” but rather “when” and “how” regarding Peyton Manning’s return to the Denver Broncos for the 2015 season.
 
The “when” is still relatively unknown –– though likely eminent –– but the “how” has been figured out.
 
According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Jeff Legwold, the Broncos will lop off more than 20 percent of Manning’s 2015 base salary of $19 million upon the five-time NFL MVP’s return to the field.
 
Manning still needs to pass a physical exam before the contract can be finalize, and will do so within the next day according to the report.
 
The $4 million pay cut for Manning would allow the club more freedom in approaching free agency, which starts March 10. Just this week Denver placed its franchise tag on wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to the tune of $12.823 million –– roughly half of the club’s available cap space in 2015.
 
Negotiations commenced after the future Hall of Fame quarterback told the club he was “physically and mentally” ready for the 2015 campaign early last month.
 
According to ESPN Denver Broncos Insider Mike Klis, this will be the first time Manning, who turns 39 later this month, has taken a pay cut during his now-18 year NFL career.
 
Manning’s slashed salary puts him now sixth among the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL in terms of 2015 base salary. The five ahead of Manning include:
  • Drew Brees – $18.8 million
  • Tony Romo – $17.0 million
  • Eli Manning – $17.0 million
  • Phillip Rivers – $15.8 million
  • Jay Cutler – $15.5 million
During his three seasons as a Bronco, Manning has ranked among the top three in the NFL in QB rating.
 
Only Brees and Romo last season and Josh McCown –– who started only five games –– in 2013 had better seasons in terms of QBR since Manning arrived in Denver.

Broncos tap Wade Phillips for defensive coordinator as time runs out on Vance Joseph

By Johnny Hart
ESPNDenver.com
 
After trying to lure Vance Joseph away from his post as Cincinnati Bengals defensive backs coach to run Denver’s defensive for nearly two weeks, the Broncos finally have its defensive coordinator.
 
The thing is … it’s not Vance Joseph.
 
Instead, it’s the club’s second choice: former Broncos head coach Wade Phillips.
 
Joseph, a rising star on the NFL coaching circuit, had interviewed for Denver’s head coach opening after the team consciously uncoupled with John Fox, interviewing just days before former Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.
 
But when the Denver head coaching job went to Kubiak, Joseph rose to the top of Denver’s defensive coordinator’s list –– a list of candidates that included Phillips among others.
 
Cincinnati would squander any chance of Joseph and Denver hooking up, however, by not allowing the assistant to interview for the Broncos coordinator position.
 
Not required to allow Joseph out of his contract, which runs until 2016, the Bengals didn’t budge, leaving the Broncos with its second choice to run the Denver defense.
 
But Phillips, who had Joseph as a member of his staff in Houston for three years under then-Texans head coach Kubiak, told the Denver Post, “That’s the way the league is.”
 
 
Denver’s new D-coordinator called Joseph a “bright, rising star,” according to our Broncos insider Mike Klis, saying he may have “taught him too good.”
 
The son of Bum –– literally (his father was former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips) and also on Twitter (@sonofbum) –– isn’t exactly a slouch.
 
During his 32 years as either head coach or coordinator in the NFL, Phillips’ defenses ranked 10th or higher in total yards 17 times.
 
In his last coaching stint, Phillips took over a Texans unit ranked 30th in the league and posted the second best defensive by total yardage (285.7 yards per game) in 2011.
 
Much like Kubiak, and freshly hired offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, Phillips will undergo his second stint in orange and blue. He coached Denver’s defensive from 1989 to 1992, when he replaced Dan Reeves as head coach.
 
Phillips managed a 16-16 record as the Broncos head coach before being replaced by Mike Shanahan in 1995.
 
With Phillips will likely come a change in defensive scheme for the Broncos –– from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4.
 
It’s the scheme that netted Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware 60.5 sacks from 2007 to 2010 as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, when Phillips was the team’s head coach.
 
Said Phillips to Klis and the Denver Post: "I've had DeMarcus before and with Von Miller, those two guys can be awesome - they are awesome but they can be more awesome in the 3-4."
 
The defensive hinges on a finding a suitable nose tackle to eat up space on the line of scrimmage, which could be an issue if Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton should leave via free agency.

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