When long-time Manning family media consigliere Chris Mortensen declares that Peyton has informed the Broncos that he’s “physically and mentally prepared to play at a significant level in 2015,” it may as well have come from the horse’s mouth.
So now the question is whether the Horses really want the horse. They’ve said they do, because what else are they going to say? “Thanks for saving us from Tim Tebow and giving us three years of serious contention, now get out of here”?
The biggest question is whether the Broncos prefer to employ Peyton at a lower 2015 cap number than $21.5 million — or at a lower 2015 cash figure than $19 million.
“[G.M. John] Elway has publicly stated that he wants Manning to return, but it is uncertain under what conditions and whether it includes a dramatic restructuring of the veteran’s contract,” Mortensen wrote Friday.
In other words, Peyton doesn’t know whether the Broncos wants him to take less money to stay with the team. If the Broncos want him to take a lot less — and if Peyton chooses not to — that could result in the Broncos and Manning parting ways before March 9, on which date his $19 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed for 2015.
If Manning fails his physical, the Broncos never have to cross that bridge. Which may explain why the Broncos have yet to declare that they both want Manning back and want him at $19 million for the coming season. Which could mean that things will get even more interesting if Peyton passes his physical — and if he doesn’t.
If he passes, the Broncos have to decide whether to pay him $19 million or to cut him before March 9. If he fails, the question becomes whether Manning would pass a physical administered by another team that would be happy to have him fall into their laps.
A team like, say, the Texans, which didn’t want Manning three years ago and which would now have a chance to rectify that blunder and perhaps finally vault beyond the divisional round of the postseason.
Either way, Mortensen (and, necessarily, Manning) has spoken. The quarterback is “physically and mentally prepared to play at a significant level in 2015.” Maybe it’s not a coincidence that the proclamation omitted three key words: “for the Broncos.”