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Denver bound

Barring a last-second push from another suitor, Peyton Manning is headed to the Broncos. Joe Fortenbaugh

Print This March 19, 2012, 12:46 PM EST

You can go ahead and forget about all of that, “Tim Tebow is our guy” talk, because the Denver Broncos have just made the biggest free agent splash of 2012.

Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter of ESPN are reporting that hotly pursued free agent quarterback Peyton Manning has instructed his agent to begin negotiations with the Broncos. Barring an “unexpected snag,” Manning is headed for Denver.

The report puts an exclamation point on a frantic two-week period in which Manning was heavily pursued by a handful of teams looking to break the bank for his services. While the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals were at one point in the mix, the race came down to three teams, with the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers falling just short.

Tim TebowWith Peyton Manning headed for Denver, Tim Tebow will hit the trading block.

As we enter the final moments of “Peyton Watch 2012,” there’s always a chance that either San Francisco or Tennessee—or both—could make a last-ditch effort by throwing even more money at Manning in an effort to get the 35-year-old quarterback to rethink his decision. But with the way the former Colt has handled the free agent process, it appears that his mind is finally made up and his heart is set on signing with Denver.

With Manning on his way to becoming the Broncos newest signal-caller, the quarterback fallout from around the league will have its impact felt in several cities. Tim Tebow is reportedly headed for the trading block and Alex Smith now has the opportunity to play the 49ers and Dolphins against each other in an effort to land the biggest payday possible.

After all, San Francisco made it clear when they entered the Manning sweepstakes on Friday that re-signing Smith wasn’t their top priority. Smith has now gone from having little leverage with the organization to having quite a bit, should the Niners still be interested in bringing the six-year veteran back for a seventh season.

The impact of Manning’s decision to sign with Denver has already been felt in Las Vegas as well. Local sportsbooks were forced to readjust the Broncos’ Super Bowl odds for next season on Monday with offshore shop Sportsbook.ag dropping Denver from 18/1 to 10/1 following Manning’s decision to go to Denver.

In the end, the Broncos got their man. John Fox and John Elway are throwing in the towel on Tim Tebow—who went 7-4 as a starter last season and led the Broncos to a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers—and moving on with Manning.

Expectations will certainly be at an all-time high in Denver this summer. Fox and Elway have gambled their futures on Manning being able to take this organization to the next level. It should be fun to see how everything turns out.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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