The Broncos are in no rush to get Peyton Manning back on the field, and they intend to give Brock Osweiler at least two games under center, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. Manning, who is dealing with a partial tear in his foot along with the rib and shoulder issues that have been plaguing him for some time, is not expected to play until he is able to practice regularly in preparation for a game. And if Osweiler performs well, or even decently, there is a chance that the Broncos will not turn back to Manning at all. Indeed, after speaking to sources inside the organization, Mike Silver of the NFL Network has concluded that Osweiler is not merely keeping Manning’s seat warm until the future Hall-of-Famer returns. Instead, Silver says, Manning has simply been benched (Twitter link via NFL Media).
To say that Manning has performed poorly this season would be an understatement. He leads the NFL in interceptions (17) and ranks 31st in overall passer rating. If his name were not Peyton Manning, he may have been benched several weeks ago. And, since the Broncos will likely be in rebuilding mode next season, the switch to Osweiler represents something of a win-win scenario; Osweiler, who is considerably more mobile than Manning, will allow head coach Gary Kubiak to open up his playbook and therefore help the team in its current playoff push while also allowing Denver to determine if he can be the permanent answer under center.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com agrees with La Canfora’s report, although he adds that Broncos officials are split as to whether Osweiler is the team’s quarterback of the future. That is why the team has not yet discussed a possible contract extension with Osweiler, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. However, if Osweiler can effectively manage the next several games, the Broncos’ approach to their quarterback situation could begin to take shape.
The expectation is that Manning, after he retires, will ultimately pursue a front office position. Whether that happens immediately after he retires is another story, but La Canfora writes in a separate piece that if Manning is ready for such a role in 2016, there will be a number of teams willing to give him a shot. Per La Canfora, the Titans and Browns are two clubs that would love to bring Manning aboard, and there are a few factors to suggest that either team would be an attractive landing spot. For instance, Manning has strong ties to Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, and he has long held that he would like to live in Tennessee when his playing days are over. Of course, someone with Manning’s reputation can afford to wait for the perfect opportunity, but as the end of his playing career may be accelerated this afternoon, it is natural for the rest of us to speculate as to what will come next for an all-time great.