Despite being the recipient of dozens of questions this week about his possible retirement, when he left the stadium last night all we knew about Peyton Manning’s future plans was that he intended to drink a lot of Budweiser. That presumably has been accomplished and now he has to decide if Super Bowl 50 will be his last game.
But Manning may not have a whole lot to think about. His decision cold be made by what is often the NFL’s driving force in matters such as this, the salary cap.
The simple fact of the matter is that the Broncos can’t afford to keep Manning next year. Thanks to Peyton’s struggles and injury they discovered their quarterback of the future. Brock Osweiler played well and Denver went 5-2 in the games that he started.
The difficult thing for the Broncos is that Osweiler is set to become a free agent. They need him back and starting quarterbacks aren’t cheap. I don’t see him signing for anything less than a deal averaging $12-$15 million per year. Manning is on the books for a $19 million salary. It would be hard for the Broncos to stay competitive with that much of their salary cap going to quarterbacks.
If Manning does not want to retire John Elway and the Broncos could be in a position where they have to release Manning for the second time in his career.
Right now there is not much point in going into such scenarios. Manning knows the cap situation as well as anyone and he is unlikely to force the Broncos to make a decision. A retirement announcement is likely in a week or two and Manning will have his figurative ride off into the sunset holding up the Lombardi Trophy (and perhaps a bottle of Bud).