So why is Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning continuing to delay the announcement of his decision to retire as a member of the Broncos? Possibly because he doesn’t want to retire as a member of the Broncos.
It’s a theory recently raised in connection with Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who’d be better off retiring as a free agent than as a member of the Lions, since it would then become much easier to unretire and sign with anyone he wants. For Manning, his current delay could be more about securing a release from the Broncos than landing on the team’s reserve/retired list.
The possibility becomes more relevant at this point because the signs are increasing that Manning may want to find a way to keep playing. On Monday, agent Tom Condon told SiriusXM NFL Radio that Manning has told Condon, “I really like to play.'” On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning (via Rotoworld.com) that “in a perfect world” Manning would “like to keep playing.”
It meshes with what PFT reported during the season. After exiting the lineup due to a foot injury that possibly wasn’t going to heal in time for Manning to play again in 2015, he intended to play in 2016. Circumstances have now changed, however.
Before he returned and led (sort of) the Broncos to a Super Bowl win, the bar for overcoming his performance before November 15 was very low, making it easier to find another team where he could reverse the perception that he had become the NFL’s equivalent of Willie Mays. It now becomes harder to Manning to find a “perfect world” to continue to play, since he’d need to find a contending team that is otherwise poised for a serious playoff run.
If he doesn’t retire as a member of the Broncos, it would be easy for him to return at any time. Maybe he finds a team in June. Maybe a spot opens in July or August. Maybe the quarterback of a contender gets injured at some point during the regular season.
At one point, it was believed Brett Favre was destined to pull a Roger Clemens and return during a given season. Maybe Peyton Manning’s “perfect world” consists of waiting for a perfect storm to descend on a great team that loses its quarterback late enough in the season to allow Peyton to swoop in and save the day.
Or at least to provide just enough of a complement on offense to help an otherwise championship-caliber team finish the job.