4:26pm: Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears that they rumors regarding Manning are similar to the ones that were surrounding 48ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick not long ago. The Texans were doing their due diligence on quarterbacks and called around the league. One of those QBs, it seems, was Manning.
12:52pm: A top-level Broncos source continues to insist that the club never made a call regarding a Manning trade, and never considered moving the quarterback, says Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter links). Could the Texans have made the call then? Maybe, tweets Klis.
As a point of comparison, Klis notes (via Twitter) that the Seahawks called the Broncos last year asking if they’d take Percy Harvin for Julius Thomas, and Denver immediately dismissed the idea. The 9News scribe hints that this could have been a similar scenario.
WEDNESDAY, 10:47am: Despite the slew of denials from the Broncos and Texans, a source tells SportsRadio 610 in Houston that the two teams had “very preliminary” talks about Manning before the five-time MVP signed his reworked deal with Denver (link via CBS Houston).
Generally, when separate outlets from separate cities are reporting a story like this one, it didn’t just materialize out of thin air (no pun intended). So I wouldn’t be surprised if the Broncos and Texans briefly discussed the possibility early in the offseason. However, it sounds like those talks might have happened almost in passing – if they happened at all – and never got close to becoming serious.
TUESDAY, 8:57pm: Multiple Broncos officials who spoke with Troy Renck of The Denver Post (on Twitter) denied the rumor “in [the] strongest terms.”
8:26pm: Elway told Mike Klis of 9NEWS (on Twitter) that the rumored trade proposal is “not true.”
8:00pm: John McClain of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter) spoke with three Texans sources who all said the story is not true.
7:32pm: If those talks ever took place, then it’s news to agent Tom Condon. “Neither the Texans, the Broncos, or Peyton Manning ever talked to me about a trade anywhere,” Condon told PFT (on Twitter).
The Texans, meanwhile, declined to comment (link).
Earlier this evening, 94.1 FM Denver/96.9 FM Boulder radio host Benjamin Allbright (Twitter links) reported that Denver tried to trade Manning this offseason to Houston. “Certain elements” of the Broncos organization, he said, wanted to jump start the Brock Osweiler era in Denver. Allbright said that he was unable to get on-the-record confirmation anyone in either organization, but Smyth offered up a rather strong comment on the report.
“Here’s one for the record – The speculation is false, and your report is inaccurate,” Smyth tweeted.
Manning, 39, had another excellent season for the Broncos in 2014, putting up 4,727 passing yards to go along with 39 touchdown passes. However, he was hampered by injuries late in the season and struggled down the stretch, particularly in the team’s divisional playoff loss to the Colts, in which he totaled just 211 passing yards on 46 attempts.
Given the way the season ended, plus the fact that head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase both found new jobs, there was some doubt that Manning would return for another year. However, John Elway, Gary Kubiak, and the Broncos maintained all along that they’d welcome back the former MVP. In March, Manning announced that he’d return for the 2015 campaign and Denver was outwardly happy to have him back in the fold.
In early March, Manning agreed to a deal that reduces his base salary for the coming year from $19MM to $15MM. That extra $4MM will still be available to the future Hall-of-Famer via incentives, but he’d have to reach the Super Bowl to earn any of it — he’ll reportedly receive $2MM if the Broncos win the AFC, and another $2MM if they win the Super Bowl.