The Denver Broncos are rumored to be nearing the end of their Peyton Manning era, but the Hall of Fame quarterback could still have a football future ahead of him — in Cleveland, of all places.
The Broncos are rolling this season, but their 7-1 record has more to do with a league-best defense than Manning’s declining skills.
The rumors of Peyton Manning’s retirement have been building as the season goes on. The Denver Broncos quarterback has been clearly hampered by injuries, he leads the league in interceptions and is on pace for his worst season since his rookie year in 1998. To illustrate how quickly he’s dropped, Peyton Manning has as many touchdowns through eight games of the 2015 season as he had through the first two games of 2013.
Manning has also been banged up, with the latest injury coming to his ribs.
Broncos disclosed Peyton Manning rib injury because he received Saturday morning treatment for it https://t.co/lk2qxBEDsB
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) November 15, 2015
There is plenty of speculation as to where Peyton Manning could end up after retirement. NFL.com‘s Albert Breer noted that Manning is a top candidate to become an NFL executive next year, and said the Cleveland Browns seem a logical destination.
Manning already had a relationship with the Browns’ owner, Jimmy Haslam, who also happens to be a major booster for Manning’s alma mater, the University of Tennessee.
There are other options, Greer notes, including a return to the Volunteers. Manning could also be pulled back to the Indianapolis Colts or to his native Louisiana to the New Orleans Saints, Greer speculated.
CBS Sports producer Ross Kelly believes its inevitable that Manning become an NFL executive.
“Transitioning from a player to having a major front-office role is pretty rare. Even Hall of Famers like John Elway and Ozzie Newsome had to pay their dues within the AFL and as a scout, respectively. Going from a player to a coach is also pretty rare but much more common as Larry Foote just did it this year with the Arizona Cardinals. Usually great players within an organization acquire a title such as “adviser” or “special assistant” upon their retirement like Larry Bird with the Celtics or Jeff Bagwell with the Astros. But if Manning were to have a VP/GM/personnel director title with a team in 2016, that would be unprecedented in the modern NFL. However, as we’ve seen with Peyton Manning throughout his entire NFL career, doing the unprecedented is just the norm for him.”
It’s not totally clear, yet, whether Peyton Manning will retire after this season, but rumors indicate that the Denver Broncos may be preparing for his exit. The Broncos appeared to have the succession plans ready this summer, when Manning contemplated whether he would come back. The team appears to be high on backup Brock Osweiler, though he doesn’t have much of a resume to tell.
There are also rumors that the Denver Broncos could turn to Colin Kaepernick, who seems headed on his way out of San Francisco. Kaepernick was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert, with coach Jim Tomsula telling ESPN he wanted to give Kaepernick a chance to “step back and breathe.”
It’s unlikely Kaepernick would be able to catch his breath in San Francisco, with sources close to the team saying a split now appears inevitable.
Many believe Colin Kaepernick would be a good fit in Denver, with Fansided writer Jon Schlosser speculating that Kaepernick would be the perfect fit for coach Gary Kubiak’s system.
“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.”
But, the rumors of Peyton Manning’s retirement could have a lot to do with how the Denver Broncos perform for the rest of the year. At 7-1, the Broncos are once again the cream of the AFC and have a defense that appears to match up well against Tom Brady. If the Broncos are able to finally break through and win the first Super Bowl title of the Peyton Manning era, all bets could be off regarding his retirement.
[Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images]