(CNN) — Free agent quarterback Peyton Manning will play for the Denver Broncos, the team announced Tuesday.
Manning was released earlier this year by the Indianapolis Colts, the only team for which he’s played in his 14-year pro career. In the subsequent weeks, the Super Bowl XLI victor — who has been named the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player a record four times — has been hotly sought after by several teams.
He did not play during the 2011 season after having surgery to repair a neck injury, and he ended his career with the Colts this month in an emotional news conference.
Jim Irsay, the Colts’ owner and chief executive officer, said in a statement Tuesday morning he congratulates Manning “as he heads to a tremendous organization in the Denver Broncos. We wish him nothing but the best as he continues his Hall of Fame career.”
A member of the Broncos organization on Monday told CNN the team was in ongoing talks with Manning.
As of Monday, indications were the Broncos were the only ones negotiating with Manning, deflating several other teams. The Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans and Arizona Cardinals were said to be among the others interested in signing Manning.
Several Denver Broncos players expressed excitement Monday that Manning had picked their team to join.
Running back Lance Ball wrote “Wow!” on his Twitter feed, while offensive lineman Ryan Clady tweeted, “Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“It makes you think big,” linebacker Robert Ayers told reporters. “If you look at (it) historically, the teams that won the Super Bowl are teams with a guy like Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees and Eli (Manning) and Aaron Rodgers and all those guys. So it definitely makes you confident.”
Linebacker Joe Mays, who officially signed again with the Broncos on Monday, told CNN affiliate KMGH, “We’re definitely going to go for that Super Bowl ring, and we’re going to do whatever it takes. We’ve got the man at quarterback to play for us.”
Titans owner K.S. “Bud” Adams said in a statement that he spoke with Manning on Monday morning.
“I want to thank the whole organization for their efforts in trying to sign Peyton and also to Peyton for the time he put into the process,” he said. “Peyton called me this morning to inform me of his decision and obviously I am disappointed, because I thought we would be a perfect fit.”
Manning told Adams that he will sign with the Broncos, KHOU-TV of Houston, Texas, reported.
ESPN, citing multiple unnamed sources, said Manning would become the Broncos quarterback unless some unexpected problem surfaced during contract negotiations.
The Denver Post, citing an unnamed NFL source, said Manning called former Broncos quarterback John Elway, who is now the team’s executive vice president for football operations, to say he wants to play for the Broncos and wants to negotiate exclusively with the team.
Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, declined to comment.
The arrival in Denver of a superstar of Manning’s stature would raise questions about the fate of Tim Tebow, who became the Broncos starting quarterback last year amid electric fanfare and led the team into the playoffs. Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007, when he played for the University of Florida.
On Friday, Elway traveled to North Carolina to watch Manning practice.
“Watching him throw today was the next step in this important process for our team and Peyton. It was a productive visit and went well,” Elway said on Twitter. “We enjoyed visiting with Peyton today in N.C. He threw the ball great and looked very comfortable out there.”
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