The Denver Broncos are rumored to have reached the end of the Peyton Manning era, with Brock Osweiler reportedly taking over the position on a full-time basis and the future Hall of Famer serving only as an emergency backup in case of injury.
Osweiler has been waiting in the wings for more than a year, studying under Manning and reportedly preparing to take over the starting job one day. There were even rumors back in the summer that the Broncos may be moving to the 6-foot-8 quarterback permanently, as Manning was reportedly considering retirement.
But Manning came back, and took with him the starting job. At least, until the early part of this season, when injuries and poor performance pushed him to the bench.
Brock Osweiler will start again for Broncos on @ESPNMondayNight against Bengals. Peyton Manning will not be active. pic.twitter.com/MBf04pCvX8
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 23, 2015
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 20, 2015
Osweiler led the team to some big victories since taking over, including a win over the then-unbeaten New England Patriots, and coach Gary Kubiak has now said tentatively that he will hold onto the starting job going forward.
“Brock is our starter moving forward,” Kubiak said on Wednesday (via 9NEWS). “And we’re trying to get Peyton healthy. That’s where we’re at. The team knows that. If something were to change, you all will be the second guys to know. I hope. The team should always be first.”
While it took Kubiak two full days to confirm that Osweiler was the starter, there are rumors that the Denver Broncos are solid in their decision to move on from Peyton Manning. The 9NEWS report hinted that the job is Osweiler’s to lose.
“Because the Broncos have already shut down Manning this week after he experienced a setback in his recovery from a partially torn plantar fascia last Friday, his return to the playing field is very much in doubt.
“Manning will not be placed on season-ending injured reserve, so never say never. But so long as Osweiler remains healthy and continues to play reasonably well, it’s time to consider that Manning may have played his last down with the Broncos.”
Reporter Jason La Canfora confirmed that the Denver Broncos were now Brock Osweiler’s team.
Broncos confirm the obvious – Brock Osweiler remains the starter. Manning still trying to rehab his foot. Job’s always been Brock’s to keep
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 23, 2015
Peyton Manning’s health also seems precarious. The team’s official website reported that he has been spending the last month working on rehab and had graduated from a walking cast to a boot. He was back on the practice field last week, but suffered a setback on Friday.
But sources close to the team say that even if he does recover, Peyton Manning is unlikely to see the field again. He has only one year left on his contract and would be owed $19 million, and isn’t likely to take a pay cut to stay on the team. That leaves the team with little incentive to put him back on the field, especially if Osweiler will be the future of the franchise.
The Broncos have a critical matchup coming up. They are facing the 11-3 Bengals, and a win would give them control over their seeding. With two wins, the Broncos would be guaranteed at least the No. 2 seed, with a first-round bye and a home game in the divisional round.
If the rumors are true, then the Denver Broncos will be starting Brock Osweiler in these critical games while Manning watches from the sidelines. And it will likely be that way for the remainder of the season.
[Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images]