Sources: Peyton ready, steps remain

Peyton Manning reassured Denver Broncos officials, including general manager John Elway, that he is physically and mentally prepared to play at a significant level in 2015, league and team sources told ESPN.

The two sides met Thursday in Denver, and while retirement technically remains an option for Manning, it is not one he expressed to Elway and CEO Joe Ellis, sources said.

Both sides hope to have clarity on Manning's future by the middle to the end of next week, though there is no absolute deadline for a resolution, sources said.

Manning, who turns 39 next month, took it upon himself to get a comprehensive evaluation from a renowned performance manager and trainer, Mackie Shilstone, during the past 2½ weeks in New Orleans. Shilstone, who has worked with several elite athletes in the latter stages of their careers, has given the quarterback a strong assessment based on numerous workouts and tests, a source said.

The quad injury that plagued Manning at the end of the 2014 season is fully healed.

The Broncos and the quarterback have other elements to explore in the coming days that range from a potential contract restructuring to having a formal physical exam, as mandated in Manning's contract, sources said. If Manning is on the Broncos' roster March 9, one day before the league's new business year commences, he will be guaranteed $19 million for 2015.

The Broncos have not only a new head coach in Gary Kubiak but also key free agents they would like to retain, including wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas. However, with a healthy $26 million projected for the team's cap space even with Manning on the roster, the team is capable of solving most of its free-agent goals.

The team also has more than $50 million of cap space projected for 2016.

Elway has publicly stated that he wants Manning to return, but it is uncertain under what conditions and whether it includes a dramatic restructuring of the veteran's contract.