After reports broke yesterday that Peyton Manning is working out in Louisiana for the express purpose of honing his body for a return to the Denver Broncos, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report claimed today that "sources close to the team" are unsure if they want Manning back.
Via Bleacher Report.
"It's fantastic that Peyton Manning is doing all these things intending to play, but ultimately, the final decision whether he plays in Denver next season is up to the Broncos and really, up to John Elway."
So far, Cole isn't telling us anything we didn't already know. Ultimately, if Manning wants to come back to the Broncos and play in 2015, Elway and the team would have to want him back. Elway has already expressed that he wants Manning back and that he believes that Manning has at least one more season left in the tank.
More from Cole.
"Peyton is going to have to take a physical before the end of this year in order for his salary in 2015 to guarantee. Now, at this point in his career, the Broncos could fail Manning for any reason, including the four neck surgeries that he's already had."
If Manning is healthy, how could the Broncos fail him for the same non-issues in his neck that they've passed with flying colors three years in a row? And if they did, Manning would certainly have something salty to say on the matter. It's not so simple to indiscriminately fail a player's physical, especially when contract legalese is taken into account.
Manning has 19 million reasons to return for 2015. The Broncos have a contract with him. Provided Manning is in good health and there have been no new injuries to his neck area, the team can't just arbitrarily fail him. If they didn't want him, they'd simply cut him. If he's healthy, you can believe that he wants that money though.
And lastly from Cole.
"In talking to sources close to the team and around the team, there's a big question here about whether the Broncos want to bring him back for one more year. They're going to have to feel very comfortable about this. Now, John Elway said at the end of the year press conference that he thinks Peyton Manning has one more year left. He's probably going to stand by that. But I will say this. It is probably only one more year."
So where's the news? Elway said that he thinks Manning has one more year left and that the Broncos want him back. He said that Manning would be involved in the coaching hire process, for crying out loud.
Manning has met with Gary Kubiak already, the new head coach. Whatever they discussed that night, Manning obviously feels assured that the team wants him back, because he's working out with a trainer who specializes in extending careers.
Are we really supposed to believe that the Broncos are so eager to give up their virtual lock as division champs and a playoff berth for a question mark at quarterback in Brock Osweiler? We're not talking about Andrew Luck here.
At 38, almost 39 years old, Manning is dancing with Father Time every day. But the guy tossed 39 touchdowns last year. 39. Yes, injuries don't heal as quickly for a 39-year old, as they do with a 22 year old.
But the Broncos know as well as anyone that they failed to protect their franchise quarterback in 2014. How often do you see a team shuffle their offensive line mid-season? Especially a contender like the Broncos?
There's a reason the team is reportedly searching for three new starters on the offensive line. Of course they need players who fit the scheme, but ultimately, it's about protecting Peyton Manning. Rick Dennison, the offensive coordinator, wouldn't commit today to the notion that the Broncos are actually going to run the zone running scheme. It's about protecting Manning.
Finally, Cole hedges his bet by saying that Manning will probably return, but only for one more year. I respect Jason Cole and have had the privilege of meeting him, but I have to scratch my head on this one.
If he truly believed the veracity of his "sources" and that this piece was news-worthy, why end it by saying that despite his report, he thinks Manning returns, which implies, naturally, that the Broncos actually do want him back? Contradictory.
Until Manning officially announces his plans to return, we won't know for certain how this will resolve. But all signs point to Manning remaining firmly entrenched in the franchise's paradigm. This is a classic case of "there's nothing to see here, folks".