According to the Denver Post's Mike Klis, the Denver Broncos are indeed in the process of attempting to restructure Peyton Manning's contract, which has delayed the official announcement from "the Sheriff" that he is in fact returning for the 2015 season.
The rumor mill has been abuzz, churning out stories replete with speculation that the Broncos are asking Manning to take a pay-cut, but until today, there hasn't been an official report with inside information.
The cat is out of the bag.
After all of the glowing words that Manning, John Elway and Gary Kubiak have reciprocated over the last couple of weeks, there was likely only one obstacle holding back an official announcement. It starts with "M" and rhymes with "honey".
By the time the 2015 regular season rolls around, Manning will be 39 years old. The general consensus is that this will be his last hurrah, despite having two more years left on his deal (including 2015). This truncated contractual term makes it exceedingly more difficult to restructure his deal with the Broncos.
Manning is scheduled to make $19M in 2015, which will be guaranteed, if he is still on the roster on March 9th. The Broncos have between $26-27M in available cap space, but Demaryius Thomas will consume $12.8M of that when the team applies the franchise tag to him.
That significantly narrows down the team's spending capital. With several restricted free agents, exclusive rights free agents to tender, and an upcoming draft class to sign, much of the remaining cap space will be gone. John Elway hopes to fill some roster needs via free agency, which opens on the afternoon of March 10th, and he needs more wiggle room to make it happen.
Asking their soon-to-be 39-year old quarterback to help out on his contract is a logical response to the situation. Per Klis, Elway and the Broncos and Manning and his agent Tom Condon, hope to have a bow tied on a new contract by the beginning of next week, with an announcement to follow.
For those who expect Manning to take a step backward financially and literally accept a pay-cut, in order to somehow match the "selfless" restructuring that Tom Brady gave the New England Patriots not long ago, Klis points out that Brady actually made more money by giving his team more space to maneuver.
Klis elaborates in his piece.
Here's how it worked: In his former contract, Brady was to make $15 million (salary, roster bonus and workout bonus) in 2013 and $15 million in 2014. A combined $30 million. After the restructuring, Brady made a combined $33 million in salary and bonuses. Brady not only got an additional $3 million, he got the bulk of his new deal upfront - which would appeal to any player who will turn 38 in August. No doubt, Brady took far less than market value when three additional years — at $8 million in 2015, $9 million in 2016 and $10 million in 2017 — were eventually tacked on to his new contract. Converting Brady's 2013-14 salaries to a bonus also gave the Patriots significant salary cap relief, as they were able to prorate the $30 million through 2017.
It all sounds good in theory, but in practical application, its easier said than done. Because Manning's gamedays are numbered, he might have to actually be willing to take less money, in order to help the team. Some Broncos fans think it's Manning's duty to accept a pay-cut, if he genuinely wants to win another Super Bowl.
I wouldn't go that far. But he's made about $250M in league earnings since he entered the NFL in 1998, so he's certainly not hurting for money, especially when his endorsements and business ventures are taken into account on top of that.
It sounds like we won't have to wait long for a resolution. All parties involved know that the clock is ticking. With cap wizard Michael Sullivan, who has helped Elway structure big free agent contracts into team-friendly deals--a feat marveled at around the NFL--you can believe that no stone will go unturned.
The fact that all parties seem willing to compromise certainly helps. We're not talking about a hostile ultimatum here.