2:26pm: Manning’s contract only involved a mandated physical after the 2012 and 2013 seasons, so if he does decide to take a physical before making his decision, it’ll be his choice, according to Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com (all Twitter links).
11:20am: The Broncos have replaced their head coach and their offensive coordinator since being eliminated from the postseason 10 days ago, and will soon hire a new defensive coordinator as well. However, no offseason move could impact the team more than Peyton Manning‘s potential departure. For now though, it appears that the future Hall-of-Famer is leaning toward returning to the Broncos.
Three “trustworthy” sources tell Woody Paige of the Denver Post that Manning won’t – or can’t – make his final decision until he takes the annual physical exam that is mandated by his contract, but that he wants to play for the Broncos in 2015.
Manning remains under contract with Denver for two more seasons, but only a small portion of his deal would count against the cap if he decides to retire and/or is cut by the club. If he wants to return, and the Broncos sign off on the results of his physical, Manning would see his $19MM salary for 2015 become guaranteed on March 10, the first day of the 2015 league year.
While 2014 as a whole was another incredible season for Manning, who racked up 4,727 passing yards and 39 touchdowns, it ended on a down note, as injuries hampered him during Denver’s divisional loss against the Colts. In that game, the former first overall pick completed just 26 of 46 passes for 211 yards, and misfired badly on a number of deep balls. If he’s healthy for Week 1 in 2015, there’s certainly reason to think that Manning could rebound and have another strong year, but he’ll turn 39 in March, and nagging health issues could become the norm going forward.
General manager John Elway and the Broncos have instructed Manning to take a few weeks to think about his decision, so we likely won’t get resolution on the issue until at least February, or perhaps even March.