January 23, 2016
Denver Broncos Rumors: Peyton Manning Could Retire After The Playoffs, Will His Last Game Be Against The Patriots?

With the Denver Broncos set to take on the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday at 3:05 p.m., rumors are running rampant regarding the future of Peyton Manning. While the 39-year-old future Hall of Fame quarterback recently reclaimed the starting job from backup quarterback Brock Osweiler, Manning is nothing more than a shell of his former self. Even in his prime, Manning was never a great player in the playoffs. While he did lead the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007 over the Chicago Bears, his regular season numbers have been much better than his playoff stats.

Earlier in the month, Manning spoke to the Denver Post regarding his future in the NFL. While he did not give a definite answer about what he has planned, he did say that the thought of retirement has crossed his mind.

"I'd be lying if I said I'm not thinking about that."
Peyton Manning is fiercely competitive, and the odds are that he will not retire without a fight. The problem for Manning is that his play may force him into retirement if he does not want to accept a backup role. While Broncos backup quarterback Brock Osweiler is not exactly the NFL's next star quarterback, he may be a better option than Manning going into next season and beyond. At only 25-years-old, Osweiler still has plenty of room to grow with the Broncos and could turn out to be a serviceable option for the next decade.
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway may play the biggest part in Manning's future. While Manning may still be mulling his retirement, Elway may have already been in the process of pushing him out. According to USA Today, Elway has been transitioning the roster from a finesse passing team to a tough running team over the past two seasons. He spoke on the transition and Manning's limitations as he ages.
"There always is a transition period, you know? Because unfortunately these great quarterbacks get older. Really, what I was drawing off and have been drawing off, is my experience in my career as — the older I got that, OK, when we won those two Super Bowls — what was the formula? The formula was to play good defense, and offensively, it was about running the ball. The mindset to me is, we play for 60 minutes. Even though we haven't consistently played well for 60 minutes but, you know, our mindset has been there. That's why this team is a tougher team, because it's a mentally tough team."
While teams in the current era of the NFL have been more apt to pass the ball over 60 percent of the time as opposed to running it, Elway's strategy is a solid formula for a championship team. As he mentioned in the quote, most of Elway's success came when he was given a great running game and a solid defense.
In another interview with USA Today, Elway was directly asked about Manning's future with the Denver Broncos. As expected, Elway declined to specifically address what Manning's role will be with the team next year.
"I think what we're doing right now is we're staying in the moment. I think Peyton's staying in this moment now. He's going to have plenty of time to think about what he wants to do in the offseason. Hopefully it's getting by this one. If you win this one, you get one left."
According to Vegas Insider, the Denver Broncos are currently three-point underdogs to the visiting New England Patriots. The fact that this game is going to be played in Denver gives the Broncos a chance, but the New England Patriots are expected to win the game and advance to the Super Bowl.
While it is every quarterback's dream to win the Super Bowl and retire, Peyton Manning may have a decision to make regarding his future if the Broncos lose to the Patriots on Sunday. And even if Manning decides to try and play next year, the Broncos may no longer view him as a starting quarterback option.

Rumors will continue to come out regarding Peyton Manning's future with the Denver Broncos until he officially announces his decision. At this point, Manning is going to need a strong running game and defense if he wishes to have success in the NFL past this season.

[Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]