How much is there left in Peyton Manning? The early parts of last season suggested that the Denver Broncos took too much of a gamble, but things changed back to normal from week 6 and onward. Things went back to normal in the playoffs as well, as the Broncos lost a home game in the AFC divisional playoff game. Manning knows how that feels all too well.
With Manning passing his “first-year” test with flying colors, a new contract has been made. Or a renegotiated one, who can tell. The NFL’s official transaction page discloses it as a “renegotiated contract,” but the bottom line isn’t different than before: Manning will be paid $40 million over the next couple of years in two chunks of $20 million. The Brocnos also insured themselves in case Manning is seriously injured (which is always a risk with a 37-year old quarterback with a serious neck surgery in his past).
The new deal has a clause which reflects that the team has purchased an insurance clause; the insurance both compensates the Broncos and provides a cap credit if Manning can’t play. But there’s not only the question of Manning getting injured. There’s the issue of Manning being able to throw at an elite level for the next couple of seasons.
Many see the Broncos as the top contenders to reach the Super Bowl out of the AFC next season. But everything depends on Manning still being able to make those quick decisions and accurate throws. He finished second in the MVP-voting last season behind Adrian Peterson, throwing for 4659 yards, 37 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. It was just like Manning for the Colts, simply needing a bit of a head start to figure things out again.
But is he really going to be this good for the next couple of seasons? The Broncos have built quit an impressive squad and crew to disguise any slight decline in Manning’s throwing abilities, but that’s all true up to a certain point. If age, and not some season-ending injury is what catches up to who might be the best quarterback in the history of the game, is what catches up with Manning, than the Broncos are in trouble.
Because no insurance or cap-relief is coming to the rescue in that situation. The Broncos have gambled their financial future, or near-future, on Manning being as good as he always was up to the point when he reaches 40. While it’s not the worst gamble in the world, these things have a tendency to make some sort of turnaround at some point, sometimes at uncomfortable situations. Yes, there are exit points, but not having the best of Manning for the next two years will be a difficult thing to recover from.