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Several Broncos predicted the free agency floodgates will swing wide open once Manning officially joins the team.

“I think we’ll sign some guys, probably a few guys, like Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, guys waiting to see what Peyton was going to do,” Ayers said. “Defensive guys want to play with a lead, and I’m pretty sure guys are going to assume Peyton will put up points in this offense, we have some weapons.”

With Manning joining the Broncos, oddsmakers in Las Vegas immediately made Denver one of the top choices to win the Super Bowl next season, which will be played in Manning’s hometown of New Orleans.

While Manning has undeniably stellar statistics _ he has thrown for more than 50,000 yards passing, nearly 400 touchdowns and has 11 Pro Bowl selections to his credit _ the first question for the Broncos will be whether he can perform at the same level.

The neck surgeries forced him to miss all of the 2011, even as he was the highest-paid QB in the game, and several teams that courted him wanted to see him throw. Denver was among them.

Last week, Manning worked out for Elway, coach John Fox and others in North Carolina at Duke’s athletic facilities. Elway said afterward that Manning “looked comfortable” throwing the ball.

The other issue is what to do about Tebow, who has three years left on his contract.

Tebow took over a 1-4 team from Kyle Orton last year and led the Broncos to an 8-8 finish and the AFC West crown with a series of stirring comebacks that captured the attention of the football world.

Tebowmania reached its apex in the playoffs, when he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the very first play of overtime to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. The next week, though, Tebow was smothered by the New England Patriots, who easily eliminated the Broncos, 45-10.

Afterward, Elway declared Tebow was the Broncos‘ starting quarterback heading into training camp this summer but said the southpaw would have to improve his flawed mechanics and footwork to win the job heading into the season.

He also said he’d spent time tutoring Tebow himself and would add more quarterback competition through the draft and free agency.

Did he ever.

Tuesday’s deal allows Manning to stay in the AFC, a conference he knows well and one considered weaker than the NFC at the moment, and re-establishes the chance he’ll play his brother, New York Giants quarterback Eli, in a Super Bowl.

They already have three titles in the family _ Eli with two. Now the older brother has another good chance to even the score.

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