This afternoon, the Denver Post’s Mike Klis reported that new Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak is “expecting” quarterback Peyton Manning to return to the team for the 2015 season. This report comes amidst a series conflicting stories surrounding the future of the 39 year old, five time league MVP.
Manning, who last week informed the Broncos that he is “physically and mentally prepared to play at a significant level in 2015,” has yet to make any kind of formal announcement about his status as the Broncos' starting quarterback next season. Many have speculated financial considerations surrounding Manning’s 21.5 million dollar cap hit have held up any announcement surrounding Manning’s future.
“I don’t think there’s any hold up at all,” Kubiak told Klis at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. “He and John are working through the process. That’s been the plan all along, the way I understand it."
Many Broncos insiders believe Elway and Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, are in the process of restructuring the star quarterback’s contract with the Broncos, which he signed in 2012. Manning is expected to make $19.5M with a $2.5M signing bonus in 2015. For many, that price tag is simply too high for the NFL’s all-time passing touchdowns leader, whose statistics in the second half of the 2014 season were some of the worst of his career.
If the Broncos are indeed re-negotiating Manning’s contract, this may be the only word we get out of the team for the rest of the month. Manning is scheduled to undergo a physical to re-asses the spinal fusion he underwent in 2011. If he intends to play, the physical likely has to be conducted before March 3rd. If Elway doesn’t negotiate a new contract with Condon and Manning is still on the Bronco’ roster on March 9th, the start of the NFL’s league year, Denver will be required to pay Manning the full value of his contract. They will also incur all of the salary cap hit that comes with it.
The question of #18’s future in Denver is the most critical issue facing the Broncos. Manning’s presence on the roster will determine much of what Elway and his front office team do throughout free agency and the draft. For Bronco fans, Gary Kubiak “expecting” Peyton Manning to be his quarterback in 2015 could mean one more run at a world championship with Peyton Manning at the helm
Here's what Kubiak had to say about Peyton Manning at the Combine today.
“No doubt I want him to be. I think all indications are that [through] everything he said and through his conversations with John he feels good. He’s had his self-assessment or however you want to label that and he feels good about moving forward. We’ll just continue with the process.”
More from Kubiak in the video below.