Prospective buyers have been preparing for years for the eventual sale of the Denver Broncos and, league sources said, there is a strong sense coming out of last week's NFL meetings that the transaction could be fast-tracked to be completed by the spring, with a formal vote not out of the question by the March league meetings.

"This could be quite aggressive," said one ownership source, noting the level of interest and how well-vetted many of those groups are.

There are still issues that must be resolved among the heirs to longtime owner Pat Bowlen before any changing of hands could be official, but behind the scenes groundwork has been laid going back to at least last year, with various parties letting their interest be known. It's been an open secret that this would almost certainly come to a head in early 2022, and that remains the case.

Sources said former Broncos star quarterback Peyton Manning, who is very interested in a potential ownership piece in the franchise and a possible role in serving in a management position as well, has already had discussions with several of the groups expected to be favorites to land the team, and his strong ties to Denver, where his family has lived since his playing days, and universal respect throughout the football world, would be a boon to any potential ownership group aligned with him.

Several sources said that, barring something totally unforeseen, a new owner of the Broncos would be fully on board by the October ownership meetings next year. Once this transaction takes place, it will help set a benchmark that other franchises will eclipse -- Seattle, for instance -- and ownership sources said if it approaches $3 billion it could spur other owners in some more metropolitan locales to begin to float their potential interest to sell as well in the near future.

David Tepper purchased the Carolina Panthers in 2018 for about $2.3B, but the NFL has secured another 10-year CBA since then, and negotiated massive new television contracts and fully embraced gambling revenue since then as well. The salary cap is going back up in 2022 after dipping in 2021 due to the pandemic, and ratings and interest in the league are back up to where they were before 2016. The business of the NFL is booming, and the sale price of this franchise will reflect it.

The timing of the sale could also have an impact on football operations, as often owners are keen to begin putting their own people in place on the business side and in football operations. If the Broncos are under new ownership then a change is still possible in March. But, the team as presently constructed will review any coaching changes necessary immediately after the season.