The Denver Broncos are rumored to be reaching the end of the Peyton Manning era, but the team could soon have a replacement in the form of a cast-off: Colin Kaepernick.
Manning has the Broncos atop the league at 7-0 this season but has been facing rumors that this year will be his last. Manning’s arm strength has dropped off, and he said this offseason that he has lost feeling in his fingertips. With a number of big quarterback records in sight, Manning could also feel this is the right time to retire.
Much of the team’s success this year has been due to the defense that could be the league’s best, one that just held Aaron Rodgers under 100 yards in a blowout win over the Green Bay Packers. Not that Manning was a slouch in the game, as he had 340 yards and three touchdowns.
But the rumors have been building that the Denver Broncos are ready to turn to the future. This offseason, there were conflicting reports on whether Peyton Manning would even return this year, with some believing the team was ready to turn to highly touted backup Brock Osweiler if Manning didn’t come back.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) November 5, 2015
Now there could be another option. The San Francisco 49ers this week announced that quarterback Colin Kaepernick would be benched in favor of backup Blaine Gabbert.
“This was just a decision that I just felt like I wanted Colin to step back and breathe,” coach Jim Tomsula said (via ESPN). “Look at things through a different lens. Keep preparing, keep doing his thing, keep working, but just step back and take a look at things, OK. That’s what I want.”
Many believe Kaepernick will never be able to start for the 49ers again, at least absent an injury to Gabbert. And he may not be with the team much longer, as the team-friendly contract makes it easy for the 49ers to cut him after the season and save $100 million of his contract, ESPN noted.
“According to OverTheCap.com, Kaepernick’s relatively ‘[minuscule] signing bonus’ of $12.3 million shows the team hedged its bet since signing bonuses and fully guaranteed salary are what ‘helps protect a player from release both from cap consequences due to acceleration of money and the mental impact of sinking so much cash into a player and then releasing him.'”
There have been past rumors that the Denver Broncos were interested in Colin Kaepernick. Before this season started, Fansided writer Jon Schlosser speculated that Kaepernick could be a perfect fit in coach Gary Kubiak’s system. As Schlosser noted, Kubiak needs a mobile quarterback who can sell a play, fake, and roll the opposite way, which opens up the field for long passes to down the seam or to the outside.
“The second thing Kubiak needs is a guy with a big arm,” Schlosser write. “Those deep throws, coming after the rollout, require serious power. Elway had a huge arm, which is why he was so perfect for it.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 4, 2015
Colin Kaepernick already has a history with the Denver Broncos. Back in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Broncos traded the No. 36 overall pick to the 49ers for the No. 45, No. 108, and No. 141 picks. The 49ers used the pick to take Kaepernick, while the Broncos used their package of picks to land starting free safety Rahim Moore, strong safety Quinton Carter, and another trade that would allow them to draft Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas.
Of course, the Denver Broncos rumors will depend largely on what happens over the course of the season. If the team finally wins its first Super Bowl in the Peyton Manning era, he and the team could be swayed to keep it going for another season, and Colin Kaepernick would likely need to find a different place to continue his career.
[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]