THE SANTA CLARA
February 11, 2016
Peyton Manning is expected to announce whether or not 2015-16 was his last NFL season. The 39 year-old Denver Broncos quarterback was able to win his second Super Bowl title over the weekend at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, fueled by a brilliant performance from his defense. He’s had an incredible career, but it is time for Manning to hang ‘em up.
Manning is already discussed as potentially being the best quarterback of all time. The one part of his resume that will hurt him in the debate is that he has only won two Super Bowl championships, compared with Tom Brady’s four. Manning is already the NFL all-time leader in passing yards (71,940), touchdowns (539) and MVP awards (5), as well as 14 Pro Bowl appearances.
It is safe to say this would be the main reason Manning would decide to return for what would be his 18th season playing in the NFL (excluding 2011 which he missed due to injury).
Coming off a great Super Bowl victory, it could be easy for Manning to romanticize next season, but coming back would be the wrong choice.
First of all, getting back to the Super Bowl next season will be an incredibly difficult task. Manning played well in the playoffs, but not well enough to carry the team on his back as we have seen earlier in his career. His age and previous injuries are obviously taking a toll on his body. He just isn’t the same athlete anymore, and it is becoming all too obvious in his throwing motion.
This season, Manning’s job wasn’t to dominate games by himself to help the team win. Instead, it was to score 20 points and let the defense do the rest. Manning’s Broncos sported one of the best defenses in NFL history. Manning wouldn’t have been able to make it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it, without the Denver defense playing like it did.
The sobering reality is that Denver will not be able to keep their defense together. Next season, Von Miller will be in the last year of his contract, and he has shown just how effective a player can be on the defensive side of the ball.
Expect him to sign the biggest contract of any defensive player in NFL history, by beating out Ndamukong Suh’s six-year, $114 million deal inked last summer.
Miller will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but the Broncos should be the clear favorite to sign him back. If Denver does re-sign Miller, they would likely need to let one of their other key pieces go for salary cap reasons, like Ware, or corners like Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib.
Manning isn’t getting any younger and his performance will continue to decline as he gets older and takes more hits.
His defense will remain largely intact, but won’t be able to stay entirely together, which was a critical piece of this season’s championship squad. Manning should go out on top, and cement his legacy as one of the greatest of all time.
Bo Kendall is a first year communication major.