Yes, Peyton Manning’s first season with the Broncos didn’t result in the team going any farther than it did a year ago. Still, Denver was good enough to nail down the No. 1 seed in the AFC — before becoming the latest No. 1 seed to be bounced in the divisional round of the playoffs.
But the glass is half full for Peyton. With $40 million.
Peyton acknowledged in August that his five-year, $96 million contract is, in reality, a one-year deal. He knows that because the deal had no guaranteed money beyond the first season. As he embarks on the second season, that’s not the case.
Though characterized by some as a series of one-year, $20 million deals, the truth is that, unless the Broncos cut Manning before the start of the 2013 league year, he’ll be in line for $40 million guaranteed over the next two seasons, with only one narrow caveat. The Broncos will be able to avoid the 2014 salary of $20 million only if he suffers another injury to his neck during the 2013 season.
For any other injury to any other area of his body, Peyton still gets the full $40 million. And it’s very safe to assume that Peyton’s camp will be prepared to argue that not just any “neck” injury voids the 2014 guarantee. Instead, Manning’s people believe that the guarantee goes away only if the neck injury directly relates to the neck injury that derailed his career in Indy.
So while Peyton, the ultimate competitor, has every reasons to be mad a day after missing a chance to host the AFC title game, he has 40 million reasons to get over it, quickly.