Jan 24, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton
KUSA – Before everyone but the NFL Network sound man found out the sweet something he said to New England head coach Bill Belichick, Peyton Manning delivered a strong hint to the masses that he had played his final game for the Denver Broncos.
"It's been a special four years playing here in Denver for these great fans, for this great organization," Manning said on the grand stage during the Lamar Hunt Trophy presentation Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. "To be going to our second Super Bowl in four years is very special.''
That sounded a bit like a man who has played his final home game in Denver.
Then came the NFL Network eavesdrop on the Manning-Belichick conversation that was distributed Tuesday morning to the masses.
“This might be my last rodeo,” Manning is heard saying to Belichick. “So, it sure has been a pleasure.”
You can’t hear how Belichick responded (it seems like the words "You're a great competitor" were involved), and with Bill Belichick being Bill Belichick – we might never know what he said.
“Don’t have anything to share,” Belichick said Monday. “I shared it with Peyton.”
Manning is 39 and coming off back-to-back injury-plagued seasons in which his performance has slipped. he is set to compete against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Manning threw 17 interceptions in his first nine games, but after missing six consecutive games with a torn plantar fascia in his left heel, he has not thrown one pick in the three games since his return.
He is almost certainly in his final season for the Broncos because the team has to re-sign his young backup, Brock Osweiler, who performed well as a seven-game starter and is a free agent after this season. The Broncos have not yet opened contract talks with Osweiler, but they are expected to once they finalize things with Manning after the Super Bowl.
After sitting behind Manning for 3 1/2 seasons, Osweiler would likely balk at re-signing with the Broncos if Manning returned to finish out the fifth and final year of his contract for the 2016 season.
Their 20th career showdown? Might've been the last. So Peyton met Belichick at midfield and... wow #NFLPlayoffshttps://t.co/YvvkE6Wxyw— NFL (@NFL) January 26, 2016
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