March 21, 2012

Peyton changes horses

by Dan Bilicki In: Football

So, Peyton Manning, one of the best quarterbacks of a generation, is now a Denver Bronco. So, now what?

First, it has to be discussed what he’s bringing to this team. Even the most optimistic estimations won’t have him playing at his peak of six years ago – that’s completely out of the question after undergoing at least four neck surgeries. The guy has had three vertebrae fused together; it’s a gambling to think that he can play at starting-quarterback quality anyway.

So the next question is if the Broncos overpaid for Peyton and by how much. It’s not unrealistic to say that he won’t play out the five years of his contract. He’ll be 36 years old this week and 41 during the last year of his deal. That in itself is dicey and throwing in his health it’s even more unlikely he’ll make it.

The sheer money involved is scary too. $96 million is a lot for any player, especially one that missed an entire season. Manning will earn $18 million in 2012 alone and then a total of $40 million in the next two season. His final two years will be at $19 million apiece, but who knows if he’ll get there, right?

At least Denver was smart enough to make sure that he has to pass a physical before each season. But still, a lot of money is at stake here.

The Broncos still have some cap room to work with too – that was one of the factors that lured Manning to the Mile High city. So who will they bring in? Manning’s buddy Dallas Clark is available and offer could be made to restricted free agent Mike Wallace. What a tandem that would be! Some upgrades could be used on the defence too, plus the draft is only a month away.

Then there’s always the Tim Tebow situation. The hot rumour is that the Broncos will deal him, most likely to one of the QB-needy Florida teams, but is that really that smart? Denver had to trade up to get Tebow in the first round of the draft and now they’d likely only receive a fourth-round pick in return for him.

Denver would be better off to keep Tebow. They don’t have a backup quarterback right now and Tebow would force opposing defences to prepare for him every week. What’s the downside there? It’s not like Broncos fans will be buying up billboard space to call for Tebow over Manning.

So, does this signing make Denver the favourites to win the AFC West? It’s hard to think that it doesn’t. San Diego – the favourites for nearly a decade – are looking like they’re starting a rebuild. Oakland is well, still Oakland. The only other choice is Kansas City, but they’re coming off an injury-plagued season and are being led by Matt Cassel.

So, to say the least, it’ll be an interesting season for Denver. Especially if they hold on to Tebow – even though that’s unlikely since the karma gods wouldn’t appreciate the Broncos benching their saviour after last season.

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