The decline of Peyton Manning also means having less leverage when it comes to negotiations over his contract, which helped the Denver Broncos come to an agreement about the future hall of fame quarterback taking a significant pay cut to help them out in the offseason.
Manning was scheduled to make $19 million in 2015, but took a $4 million pay cut in order to help bring some cap relief to the Broncos, who are limited in the number of moves they can make. It still leaves Manning with plenty of allowance, but there were some suggesting the Broncos considered cutting him had he not agreed to the reduction of his salary, with Manning entering his 18th NFL season arguably looking closer to retirement than ever.
Manning still has hefty incentives that can lift his salary back to $19 million: $2 million for winning the AFC championship game and another $2 million for winning the Super Bowl. Manning has a physical to pass by the end of the week and then he’ll sign the revised contract. He’s signed through the 2016 season but after his form in the second half of last season and the playoff loss against the Colts, there were many doubts raised about his desire to play another season for the Broncos.
The option of releasing him wasn’t publicly discussed, but had to be on the table. Manning is 38 and looked every bit of his age in the second half of 2014, as it seemed that breaking the all-time touchdown record took something out of him. The Broncos moved more and more to a run-oriented offense, but giving more touches to C.J. Anderson didn’t change the fact that they needed Manning to thrive in order to make another Super Bowl run; something that didn’t happen.
Cutting him loose this season would have saved $12 million in cap space. Next season the cap hit for Manning’s contract is $21.5 million while releasing him will save $19 million. It’s hard to say what will happen a year from now, but it’s a reasonable assumption to make thinking he’s not going to get the $19 million he’s schedules to make that year as well.