ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Peyton Manning’s appeal is already paying off.
Free agent receiver Andre Caldwell elected to sign with the Denver Broncos on Thursday in large part because of the presence of No. 18 under center.
“He gets the best out of the receivers,” said Caldwell, who spent the last four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. “That’s a big reason why I came.”
Before acquiring Manning, there were concerns that maybe receivers would be reticent to come to Denver and play for a run-oriented quarterback in Tim Tebow.
Not so with Manning, the only four-time MVP in league history. Caldwell began talking with the Broncos just before news broke that Manning was coming on board.
And once it actually happened?
“Everything heated up,” Caldwell said. “I was all on board after they signed Peyton.”
The Broncos are anticipating that Manning’s magnetism will actually give them a crack at more of the top free agents on the open market. His aura certainly drew in Caldwell.
“He’s a veteran quarterback who knows how to win games,” Caldwell said. “He knows how to put players in positions to be their best.”
And if Tebow would’ve still been the starter?
“Everybody knows with Tebow, they were more of a running-style team,” Caldwell said. “They didn’t spread the ball around as much. (Manning) was a major impact.”
Still, Caldwell was hoping to reunite with Tebow in some capacity in the Mile High City, especially after the tandem developed a connection during their days at the University of Florida.
But they just missed each other.
As Caldwell arrived in Denver, Tebow was shipping out and taking his act to Broadway. The New York Jets acquired the unorthodox quarterback from Denver for draft picks on Wednesday night.
“Tebow is a good friend of mine,” Caldwell said. “I would’ve loved to have been here with him. But I know how this game goes.
“I can’t be mad playing with Peyton Manning.”
Now, the work real begins. Caldwell realizes that Manning is notorious for his work ethic and expects — no, demands — the same commitment out of his receivers.
“He’s a workaholic. He’s likes to study film, likes to go out there and throw, likes to get better every day,” Caldwell said. “There’s nothing easy about it. He’s going to work his tail off. That’s what I’m ready for.”
Caldwell joins a strong nucleus of young wideouts that also includes Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas and Matthew Willis.
A third-round pick in the 2008 draft, Caldwell has caught 124 passes for 1,172 yards and six touchdowns in his career. Last year, he had 37 catches for 317 yards and three scores.
However, Caldwell doesn’t think he’s scratched the surface of his potential just yet. He’s hoping Manning and the Broncos can bring that out.
“I think I have a long ways to go,” said Caldwell, whose older brother, Reche, played receiver for San Diego, New England and Washington. “I think it’s going to happen here in Denver. They’ve got some great coaches. They’ve got some great players around. It’s going to help me improve every day.”
Caldwell can also return punts and kicks, which is an area of need for the Broncos after they lost their top returner when Eddie Royal bolted for AFC West rival San Diego last week.
“I’m open to do whatever it takes to win a ball game, whatever they want me to do,” he said. “This was a good situation. They’re a playoff team. I can help make this team better and we can make a run for it.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)