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On Elway’s role in leading him to choose Denver over other suitors, the most serious of which were the Titans and 49ers: “Everyone knows what kind of competitor he is as a player. I can tell he’s just as competitive in this new role. That got me excited.”

And so, the deal — the club’s most dramatic since Elway was acquired from the Colts in 1983 — was sealed.

With the new contract in place, Manning plans to retire in Denver. The Broncos, meanwhile, have some protection in the way the deal was formulated. There’s no signing bonus. Manning will get $18 million guaranteed for next season, but must pass a physical before each season, starting in 2013, to get paid.

“I don’t consider it much of a risk, knowing Peyton Manning,” Elway said. “I asked him, ‘Is there any doubt in your mind that you can’t get back to the Peyton Manning we know of?’ And he said, ‘There’s no doubt in my mind.’”

Elway’s move to the front office last year set off a whirlwind of activity that landed the Broncos in the playoffs. But the old QB is in this to win Super Bowls and he’s throwing his hat in with Manning, the 50,000-yard passer who redefined the quarterback position through the 2000s, not Tebow — who seems most comfortable carrying and not throwing the ball.

Tim Tebow’s a great kid. If I want someone to marry my daughter, it’s him,” Elway said.

But to run an NFL offense, to get a title, he wanted Manning.

“My goal is to make Peyton Manning the best quarterback that’s ever played the game,” Elway said, “and he’s got that ability with the football that he’s got left.

“He’s a guy that raises all boats. He’s already made [his teammates] better, and they haven’t met him yet just because of the type of person he is, his reputation and what he’s done in this league. So, he’s just going to have a tremendous effect on the Denver Broncos.”

Manning, who turns 36 on Saturday, said he made a quick connection with Elway, who won his two Super Bowls in Denver after his 37th birthday. Since No. 7’s retirement, a long string of 11 quarterbacks have come to Denver, trying in vain to replace the irreplaceable. If anyone can get out of that shadow, Manning could be the man.

He’s got two trips to the Super Bowl and one title, 11 Pro Bowls and was the fastest player to reach 50,000 yards and 4,000 completions. His first TD toss for Denver will be his 400th.

Manning’s familiar No. 18 was actually retired — a tribute to Denver’s first quarterback, Frank Tripucka. But Tripucka was more than happy to let Manning bring it out of mothballs.

The new face of the Broncos stressed that he was ready to work and was planning to stay in town to do so.

Manning even picked up a playbook Tuesday, but the offense crafted for and by him will be drastically changed from the option-heavy one that Tebow ran in Denver last season. And coaches can’t answer any questions Manning might have until April 16, when offseason programs can begin around the league and he’ll finally be able to work out at Broncos headquarters.

Still, it’s expected he’ll be able to run his kind of offense in Denver. Coach John Fox said he can’t wait to pair that no-huddle approach with Denver’s altitude for a double-whammy on defenses.

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