The Broncos will make a formal roster transaction today in which they will either release Peyton Manning or put him on the reserve/retired list. The difference between those two transaction categories is potentially significant.
A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the official roster transaction designation — released or retired — has not been made yet.
If Manning is released, that means he’s free to unretire any time he wants, and other teams are free to contact him. At the moment, it doesn’t appear that any team has more than mild interest. But if some starting quarterback suffers an injury, that could change.
If Manning is placed on the reserve/retired list, that makes it less likely he would come out of retirement at a later date. He could still change his mind, but he’d first have to get the Broncos to release him. And if he did it after the trade deadline — say, if a playoff contender lost its starting quarterback late in the season — he would first have to go through waivers, and some other team could claim him to block him from the team he wants to go to.
That might sound farfetched, but in 2002 it sounded farfetched that Deion Sanders would come out of retirement. And yet that’s exactly what Sanders did, or tried to do: He asked Washington to release him from its reserve/retired list so that he could go play in Oakland, and Washington obliged. But San Diego — coached by Marty Schottenheimer, with whom Sanders did not see eye to eye — claimed Sanders on waivers solely to block him from Oakland, and Sanders decided to stay retired. (Sanders did later come out of retirement, in 2004 with the Ravens.)
From all indications, Manning really is retired, and this will prove to be moot. But the transaction designation remains significant: If Manning is placed on the reserve/retired list, that means he really does expect to remain retired. If Manning is released, that means he wants to keep all his options open.