Broncos fans seem content to grant Peyton Manning one final run in 2015 but is sounds like the old man is bent on overstaying his welcome.
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Ever since the Andrew Luck and his Indianapolis Colts came to town in January and showed Denver who’s boss it has been widely assumed that Peyton Manning was preparing to hang up his cleats. “One more year” has been the mantra around Broncos Country – give the veteran QB a final chance to leave the game of football on his own terms – allow him one more chance to prove that he can rise to the challenge of the big game.
While no fan would dispute that the Broncos have been a better team with Peyton Manning than they would have been without him it has been the big games that have left the faithful flat. Manning’s playoff performances have been for the most part disappointing and his one trip to the Super Bowl wearing orange and blue was flat out embarrassing. Manning’s reputation as a “regular season quarterback” preceded him when he came to Denver from Indianapolis and he has done little to shake it since. Still, all of Broncos Country is on board for one more run. Fans have tempered their expectations, however, and begun to look ahead to the post-Manning era.
That era may be delayed, however.
The buzz about the Denver media this week is that number 18 intends to play out his contract. That means that he aims not just to play this season but to play again next season. Manning just turned 39 in March. By next March he will be 40. Football lovers have already seen his Manning’s abilities decline dramatically. How bad will be be after he’s crossed the Rubicon into middle age? Manning is already the least athletic quarterback in the NFL. Will he hang on until he’s an outright embarrassment to his craft and to himself? What damage is he willing to do the Broncos in the process?
Manning’s refusal to “coach up” Brock Osweiler has been well documented. Despite Manning’s $20M salary it has been argued that it’s “not his job” to help groom his own replacement. Manning has famously stepped on the youngster’s toes each and every time he might have been afforded an opportunity to play. Osweiler, who is 24 years and 6’8″ tall, has chomped at the bit since he was drafted in 2012 and has counted on Manning to eventually retire so that he can be handed the reins and given a chance to be the Broncos’ starter. But, if Manning does opt to play out his deal Osweiler will likely be lost. He’s a free agent after the upcoming season and he’s likely to draw interest as a potential starter elsewhere.
Since Osweiler may stray before being given a chance to play the Broncos must consider drafting yet another quarterback this coming Thursday. That would not be the case were the succession plan the Broncos seemed to have had in place were allowed to play out. The Broncos have been criticised for selecting Osweiler when they knew they had Manning but the timing of the pick makes perfect sense assuming Manning retires before age 40. If the old man hangs on, though, the Osweiler pick does become a wasted one. If the Broncos are forced to use yet another second round pick on a signal caller Peyton Manning is to blame.
Peyton Manning is a great quarterback. A legend, in fact. And his time in Denver will be remembered warmly even if it never results in a Championship. But it would be a darn shame for it to end with Manning playing like a shadow of himself. He has given Denver a lot but he has also taken a lot. One more year – that’s what he deserves and what he should get. Anything beyond that and he will be stealing from the Broncos’ franchise and will have worn out his welcome with the fans of Denver.