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Report: Bud Adams was willing to pay Peyton $25 million a year

New Orleans Saints v Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 02: Owner Bud Adams of the Tennessee Titans during an exhibition game against the New Orleans Saints at LP Field on September 2, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. Tennessee won, 27-24. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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When he signed with the Broncos, Peyton Manning got a contract that will pay him a little more than $19 million a season. But Manning could have made significantly more than that.

According to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, if Manning had decided to make it all about the money, he could have gotten $25 million a year from the Titans. Owner Bud Adams never made any secret that he desperately wanted Manning to return to Tennessee, where he had been a college star in the 1990s.

Mortensen didn’t say who his source was for that nugget, but it sounds like something Tom Condon, the agent for both Manning and Drew Brees, would want to put out there as the ongoing negotiations between Brees and the Saints approach the critical July 16 deadline for franchise players to sign long-term contracts. With the Saints and Brees not seeing eye-to-eye on the parameters of a long-term deal, it’s good public relations for the Brees camp to get the word out that at least one other quarterback has been offered much more money than the Saints are offering Brees.

What the Saints are offering is reportedly a contract that would pay Brees $19.25 million a year, just barely more than the Broncos are paying Manning and the highest average salary for any contract in NFL history. But Brees reportedly wants more than $20 million a year.

Or about 80 percent of what Adams was willing to pay Manning.