When the Broncos signed quarterback Peyton Manning, much was made about the on-field contributions expected of the four-time NFL MVP. With the first Sunday of the regular season 164 days away, Manning has already helped the team improve via the free agent market.
In the ten days since Manning agreed to terms on March 20, the Broncos have added seven additional free agents: WR Andre Caldwell, LB Wesley Woodyard, CB Tracy Porter, QB Caleb Hanie, TE Joel Dreessen, TE Jacob Tamme and DE Jason Hunter.
Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway said that he expected other free agents to be excited about the prospects of playing with a proven winner like Manning.
“It always helps because when you have a guy on your team like Peyton Manning, you have a chance to win and players in the NFL know that,” Elway said. “There are a lot of guys out there that are free that want to go somewhere where they can win championships. It is a huge benefit and it already has [helped]. We have seen that as we have seen the reaction of guys on our football team that we have been dealing with, even within the league. It is a huge plus to have a Peyton Manning on your roster.”
Elway’s words proved to be true, as the team agreed to terms with five additional players in the days following Manning’s announcement.
Caldwell was the first post-Manning free agent to join the fold and credited Manning’s presence with making Denver an appealing place to continue his career.
“It was a big factor,” Caldwell said upon choosing Denver. “He’s a veteran quarterback who knows how to win games. He knows how to put players in positions to be their best. He gets the best out of his receivers. That played a big part of it and that’s a big reason why I came.”
Tamme, who spent three seasons catching passes from Manning in Indianapolis, is looking forward to reuniting with his former quarterback. He set career highs in receptions (67), yards (631) and touchdowns (4) the last season that he and Manning played together.
“I’ve certainly enjoyed playing with Peyton,” Tamme said in a conference call. “I think he’s one of the best of all time, if not the best. It’s a lot of fun to play that style of offense to me and to be able to get in there and move fast and do things like that. I’m definitely very excited.”
Hanie, who will backup Manning, said that he is looking forward to learn from the veteran signal caller.
“Just the opportunity to back up Peyton was a huge factor,” he said. “Whatever he says, I’m going to take it in fully and write everything down that I can and just learn from him and learn how to prepare the way he does and try to see things the way he does.”
Dreessen is simply excited about the chance to catch passes from a future Hall of Famer.
“It’s no secret that Peyton Manning makes everybody he plays with better,” Dreessen said. “Obviously for that opportunity, I’m very excited about that, and I’m hoping to get a lot better.”