Peyton Manning Retirement: Denver Broncos Quarterback Will Go Out On Top, Countdown To Canton Begins

Peyton Manning is reportedly leaning toward retirement, with sources close to the Denver Broncos say the future Hall of Famer is ready to ride off into the sunset after his Super Bowl victory.

Manning had been mostly quiet about his intentions since the Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers to take Super Bowl 50. He has put off questions about what he will do and was reportedly taking the last few weeks to consider his options, but now has made a decision.

Woody Paige of the Denver Post cited sources close to the team who say that Peyton Manning will definitely retire, and will be announcing his decision late next week. Paige said it’s certain that Manning won’t be returning to the Broncos, and also said that it wasn’t at all likely he would try to play for one more year with another team.

It’s also not clear where Manning would go if he did want to play another year. This was one of the worst years of his career statistically, as he struggled with interceptions and rapidly declining arm strength. Even if he were to find a team in need of a one-year patch at quarterback — like the Houston Texans — it’s not clear if he would hold onto the job.

It would also make little sense for Manning to continue playing after going out on top as a Super Bowl champion. After losing in his last two chances at a title, Manning was able to pull through on a team that didn’t require him to do much other than take care of the ball and let the defense do the rest.

There had been indications that Peyton Manning was leaning toward retirement for months now. Manning struggled with injuries and inconsistent play throughout the season and for a time seemed as if he would lose the starting job to Brock Osweiler permanently. But the Broncos turned back to Manning for the playoffs, and he performed well enough for the league-best defense to carry the team to a title.

Along the way Manning hinted heavily toward retirement, including some telling remarks to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Tom E. Curran of CSNNE recounted Manning’s account of the meeting with Belichick and Brady after the AFC Championship Game.

“That was not pre-planned. It was a spontaneous reaction. Sometimes you want to tell somebody something man-to man, it’s better than telling them via text or even a handwritten letter, or seeing them at a banquet and saying, ‘Boy, it sure was great playing against you.’ I told (Tom) Brady the same thing previous to telling Belichick. I understand there’s people (nearby) but what I said was true. This could be it. I’m aware this could be it and I wanted to tell both of them I really have enjoyed these games. It’s been part of my football life and both of those guys have been part of good for me and not so good for me and so I took the time to tell them.”

There could be other factors pushing Peyton Manning toward retirement. There are the lingering allegations that he used HGH during his recovery from a neck injury, something that the league will reportedly be investigating over the offseason.
“As far as I know, that’s gonna start after the season, as far as my role,” Manning said (via The Big Lead). “And I welcome that investigation. And I understand when an allegation is made that the NFL has no choice but to investigate it. I get that.”

If Peyton Manning does decide to retire, it would set the counter on the five-year window before his nearly guaranteed induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

[Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images]