NFL Media's Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer reported Friday that Manning communicated to Broncos officials that he'd like to return for a fourth season with the team, according to a team source. The communication came during a face-to-face,one-on-one meeting with general manager John Elway in Denver on Thursday.
Broncos president/CEO Joe Ellis flew down to New Orleans on owner Pat Bowlen's plane to pick up Manning in a gesture of respect to the quarterback, Breer added.
Manning wants back in, but intrigue remains. Rapoport said on Friday's edition of NFL Total Access that multiple NFL general managers wonder if -- following a series of significant changes -- the Broncos really want Manning to return. New coach Gary Kubiak runs a defined offense that's much different than the offenses Manning has run during his time with the Colts as well as the Broncos under John Fox and Adam Gase.
Manning's $19 million salary becomes guaranteed if he is still on the Broncos' roster on March 9, one day before the start of the new league year. Manning must also pass a physical before that date, which is serving as a de facto deadline, per Breer.
It should still be considered a surprise if Manning isn't back in Denver. But nothing is decided as we get closer to final decision time.