Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos is mobbed after Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California February 7, 2016. The Broncos beat the Carolina
Panthers 24-10. (Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
ENGLEWOOD - Peyton Manning doesn’t really have all the time he needs to decide on whether to retire.
The Denver Broncos will need an answer by March 8, the day before the first day of the league year. On March 9, Manning’s $19 million salary for the 2016 season becomes fully guaranteed.
With all due respect to the legend deserving nothing but the most honorable of sendoffs, the Broncos are not paying $19 million to Manning in 2016.
He was supposed to receive a $19 million salary in 2015, but he accepted a $4 million pay cut to $15 million. With provisions. Manning was able to earn that money back first through a $2-million bonus if he led the Broncos to victory in the AFC Championship Game, then another $2-million bonus if he led the team to the Super Bowl 50 title.
It was $4 million the Broncos were happy to refund.
Manning initially signed a five-year, $96-million contract with the Broncos in March 2012. Coming off four neck surgeries which caused Manning to miss his final season with the Indianapolis Colts, only the first-year salary of $18 million was fully guaranteed.
The $20-million salaries in 2013 and 2014 became guaranteed if he passed his physical. His $19-million salaries in 2015 and 2016 were not guaranteed until the first day of the league year. Ordinarily, nonguaranteed salaries can remain that way until the start of the regular season. Manning's agent Tom Condon, however, made sure his client's fate was known before the offseason began.
He has so far collected $77 million through four years. In return, Manning was 45-12 in his four seasons, plus led the Broncos to two Super Bowl appearances and one Lombardi Trophy.
After setting all the significant single-season passing records in 2013, Manning’s play began to slip in the second half of 2014, which is one reason why the Broncos asked for a contract adjustment. The team was also needing some payroll budget/salary cap room.
Manning, who turns 40 on March 24, struggled through a bout of interceptions and a left foot injury this season before healing up in time to rally the Broncos to four season-ending victories, including a 3-0 run in the postseason.
The Broncos are expected to go forward with Brock Osweiler as their quarterback. Osweiler is a free agent, who must be re-signed to a contract extension – most likely by the opening of free agency on March 9.
Manning seems to understand he has played his final down with the Broncos. He has not completely decided whether he would continue to play for another team.