Apart from the question of whether Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning wants to return is the question of whether the team wants him to return. Broncos G.M. John Elway was asked that question at a Tuesday press conference, and he deftly avoided it.
Here’s the specific question: “I know Peyton has a tough decision to make, but would you personally like to see him come back to the game for another year, and would you be open to him coming back to the team?”
Here’s what Elway said, without ever showing his hand: “You know, I think that it’s important for him — the key thing is for him to want to come back. . . . It’s not really what we want to do. I think the important thing is is it’s going to be his decisions, and so where we get a chance to sit down and talk to him, and that why it’s up to Peyton to see that process. Where he is, where he is in his career, what he thinks he can do, how he can play, what he wants to do from here on out. And so in talking about retirement, retirement’s always hard. I mean you can butt up to that line and crossing that line, taking that final step, saying I am moving on. That is a very — even if the first 99 percent are easy to get there, that last one percent is as hard as that first 99 percent. So that’s why he’s gonna have the time he needs and it’s basically gonna be up to him.”
Later, another question reluctantly was posed to Elway about Peyton’s future with the Broncos.
Here’s the question: “Sorry to ask one more Peyton-related question, but Archie did say on Sunday night that he believed Peyton was done in Denver. Do you think he’s done in Denver?”
“I don’t know why Archie would say that, but obviously that’s up to Archie, and I said we’re gonna give Peyton plenty of time to think about what he wants to do,” Elway said.
The time isn’t unlimited. As noted by Mike Klis of 9news.com, the Broncos need to know what’s going on by March 8, because on March 9 Manning’s $19 million base salary for 2016 becomes fully guaranteed.
If Manning wants to play for the Broncos, and if the Broncos want him (Elway still hasn’t said they do), they’ll need to work out a contract for 2016. Last year, the Broncos initially requested a $10 million pay cut. Eventually, the Broncos dropped Manning’s pay from $19 million to $15 million, with the opportunity to earn the money back.
Complicating matters for the Broncos is that Manning has indeed earned it back, pushing the cap hit from $21.5 million to $25.5 million for 2016.
Few believe that the Broncos will want him at that number. If they want him at any number, the Broncos and Manning need to agree on what the number is. Then, they need to determine whether the contract should be extended in order to push cap dollars into 2017 by turning some of the 2016 pay into a signing bonus.
Regardless of how it all works out, the two sides have less than a month to get there. So, yes, the Broncos are currently being patient. Soon, they’ll be getting impatient.