Peyton Manning: The Biggest Free Agent Signing in Colorado Sports History?

Joey SuyeishiCorrespondent IIMarch 19, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 26:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts passes against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December  26, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The city of Denver has boasted some of the greatest athletes of all time.  Colorado Avalanche fans were privileged to watch the likes of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy for years.  The Denver Nuggets have had Hall of Famers like Alex English and Dan Issel.  The Rockies have had greats like Todd Helton and Matt Holliday.  And of course, the Broncos have had legends like Shannon Sharpe and John Elway.

The list of great athletes who have represented the city of Denver and the state of Colorado is long and prestigious, but with the signing of Peyton Manning today, does he become the single biggest free-agent signing of anyone who has played here?

All of the aforementioned MVPs, Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers were acquired through the draft or a trade as opposed to signing a free-agent deal like Manning did with the Broncos. 

Manning, who already boasts sure-fire Hall of Fame credentials and will no doubt go down in history as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, chose the city of Denver out of many potential suitors, although in a much less notorious manner than LeBron James did last year.  You think the thought of an ESPN primetime special crossed Manning's mind?  "I'm taking my talents to Mile High."  Yeah, me neither.

Colorado teams have certainly tried to make a splash in the free-agent market before.  The Avs signed Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne in 2003 with disappointing results.  The Rockies signed pitchers Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle to large dollar deals, both of whom failed to live up to expectations pitching at 5,280 feet.  The Rockies did sign Larry Walker, who would turn out to be a marquee player for years, but he was not an MVP prior to arriving in Colorado. 

Manning will join a short list of Super Bowl-winning, Hall of Fame quarterbacks to finish their careers with another team.  The previous four—Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas and Brett Favre—did not achieve much success with their later clubs.

Nonetheless, Manning will come to Denver as the biggest name acquired here since Ray Bourque in 2000 and the best quarterback to wear Bronco orange and blue since John Elway.

Look at how both of their careers ended.