The Peyton Manning story rages on and likely will throughout the weekend. Some time after I wrote about the Broncos being a darkhorse for Manning, and asking all of you if it was a good idea, Adam Schefter reported that the Broncos were indeed one of the teams that contacts Manning's representatives and reports since have said the Broncos will go hard after Peyton.
Broncos Country seems to be excited about the prospects of the Broncos pursuit. With over 2300 votes - a pretty good sample size - nearly 61% of you say you want the Broncos to go after Manning. I thought it would be a good time to get some specifics on what the staff here at MHR think, as well as two Broncos-blogging friends of mine - to see if they feel the Broncos should bring the former Colts QB to Denver.
We'll start with our guests - Kyle Montgomery of BroncoTalk and Kim Constantinesco from Predominantly Orange. Both have been writing about the Broncos for a long time and both have opinions I respect.
Ladies first - Kim what do you think about the Broncos pursuit of Peyton Manning?
Peyton Manning is that bike under the Christmas tree. It's a gift that doesn't even need to be unwrapped because the pure sight of it brings tears of joy, even without the suspense of wondering what it is. There has been no bigger free agent on the NFL market, and at the age of 36, the number of teams reportedly showing an interest in the 11x Pro Bowler and 4x AP MVP is unprecedented.
If there's one thing that could knock Tebowmania off it's main stage, it's Manningmania. It's hard not to get excited about the Broncos being one of the teams to pursue Manning. Their plan to go after Manning stands on solid ground. They are a team on the upswing, they have the run support, and their defense is on the rise. John Fox is a guy that's great to work with and the team looks to be a consistent playoff team so long as they continue to improve.
However, I doubt that Denver is a top choice for Mannning. He likes playing in a dome, he's used to being the face of the franchise, and he wants to sign with a team that will be a Super Bowl contender next year who is also willing to sign some big name free agents. Manning is leaning towards an AFC team (he doesn't want to play his brother, Eli, potentially multiple times on his way to the Super Bowl). He probably doesn't want to play in the AFC East since he would have to go through Tom Brady twice per season.
If Manning doesn't end up a Bronco, I'm happy with wherever he goes as long as he stays out of the AFC West.
Next up, Kyle, who was asked the same question about the Broncos and Manning:
The Denver Broncos should absolutely, unequivocally pursue Peyton Manning, and they shouldn't apologize for doing it. Every team in the NFL without an established franchise quarterback should be making that call to Manning, and yes, the Broncos fall within that group. Tebow may be penciled-in as the starter heading into training camp in 2012, but he has not been given "franchise QB" status yet. And while you'd like to give a young player with potential confidence in his starting status, you don't pass on a future Hall of Famer. You don't pass on Peyton Manning.
There are the given caveats. There are the medical risks that absolutely need to be thoroughly, thoroughly evaluated. You trust your employees to do that. You trust your medical experts to clear the player. Then you move on.
The Broncos have the cap space to make the move. They have a renowned owner who wants to win and a Hall of Fame quarterback in the front office who can relate to Manning. And they have John Fox, who has already shown his willingness to adapt an offensive system to his quarterback's strengths. They have a real shot at winning Manning if they make a serious effort. I think they should, and I think they will.
Thanks to Kim and Kyle for their thoughts. Now we get the feelings of MHR Staffers. In no particular order, here is what they thought:
First, we'll have to fork over an arm and leg in terms of cash. What is the point of bringing in Manning? It is either to mentor Tim Tebow and let him develop or it is to move on from Tim Tebow and draft a new quarterback in two years. The fanbase is so overly in love with Tebow, that this move will only dampen the excitement - especially if Peyton Manning is just a shell of his former self. Like Warren Moon or Brett Favre after they left their former teams.
Second, how can John Elway not see the potential in Tebow the rest of us see. There is no arguing Tebow is still raw, but he has something few other quarterbacks in NFL history have had. That innate ability to find a way to win when the game is close. As a fan who grew up watching Elway do the same thing, I finally feel like I've found a quarterback worthy of carrying on that torch.
I finally feel I get to see what Tim Tebow can do with a full off-season and zero quarterback controversy. How can Elway not be excited to see what Tebow can do when not just thrown into the fire during the middle of the season with an offense tailored to an immobile and talent-deficient journeyman quarterback? Then again, Elway is the only quarterback to ever play the game that I idolize more than Tebow right now... Go Broncos!
Absolutely. The Broncos currently have a starter that struggles with the basic act of throwing the football and getting the team lined up to snap the ball. He has trouble making decisions to the point where he is afraid to make a pass attempt unless the receiver is open by 5 or more yards. And although he keeps stating he will work harder than anyone else, continues to put his image above the team or improving as a quarterback, choosing instead to write books and model underwear instead of receiving instruction to become a quarterback.
On the flip side, in Peyton Manning, you have a tried and tested top of the line Franchise quarterback that can actually make a difference in the outcome of a game with his wit and his arm. Someone who is an actual "Gamer," you know, a player that plays the entire game, not just the last 5 minutes.
The question becomes, would the Broncos be a better team in 2012 with Peyton Manning leading them, or Tim Tebow.
I believe the unanimous answer to that question is Manning.
I can't say that I blame the Broncos for pursuing Peyton Manning. It's hard to pass up a future Hall of Famer when he hits the open market. Truth be told, I was hesitant about his recovery from the get go, but if the Broncos landed him, it wouldn't be a long term fix, anyways. What could it hurt? We've got the money to pursue him, so let's go for it.
The main question would be Tim Tebow. What happens with him? Does a Manning signing mean the end of Tim Tebow? I don't think it does. It's no secret he could use some work as a passer and having Peyton Manning mentor him could help. Reading defenses, making progressions, knowing how to check in and out of plays are just a few things that Tebow seems to struggle with and Manning excels at. If that started to rub off on Tebow, in a year or two, we could be witnessing a totally transformed quarterback... for the better. I say we should pursue Manning with everything we've got. With Manning lifting our offense and our defense starting to grow teeth, the Broncos could be right in the hunt for a playoff run.
Should the Broncos Pursue Peyton Manning?
In my opinion, no. There are three reasons for this:
1)It would tie up too much cash -- Peyton won't come cheap and it would negatively impact Denver's ability to address other areas of need through Free Agency and/or the Draft.
2)The youth of the offense -- the offensive line is not yet consistent enough in it's protection and the receivers are relatively young which means that the rest of the offense does not perform at the level Manning is accustomed to and would want.
3)Long term implications -- by bringing in Manning, the Broncos would be saying that the Tebow experiment is over before it had a chance to prove itself one way or the other. Further, since I don't see Manning playing more than four more years, Denver would be in the unenviable position of having to hope in two to three years that there is a starting-caliber quarterback available to groom behind Manning -- I doubt there are many starting-caliber quarterbacks who would want to sit on the bench for three to four years.
One thing that I've maintained all offseason is that whatever team happens to get Peyton Manning is automatically not just a division contender, but a legitimate contender to take whatever conference they are in. Dolphins, Cardinals, Redskins, Broncos--regardless of what team it is, I think Peyton Manning automatically makes his new team a 10-12 win team. We saw what kind of team the Colts were without him, and what kind of team they were with him.
The biggest questions surrounding Manning are age and injury. Those are not comforting concerns, especially when you're talking about rumors of Tim Tebow being traded if Manning is indeed acquired. That is something I am not in favor of. Tim Tebow is the future of the Broncos' franchise. I would fully support obtaining Peyton Manning as a bridge to the Tebow gap, so to speak, but I am not in favor of wiping the slate clean and starting with Manning as a short-term solution.
As a fan of the game, I would be honored to have Manning wearing orange and blue. He is arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, and he is a winner. The Colts weren't always great in the playoffs, but darn it they were always there. I think the Broncos would be foolish not to look into this opportunity if they don't think Tebow is capable of winning in the short term, or if they think he can benefit from the tutelage of Manning.
The question then becomes whether or not Manning would be willing to let Tebow learn under him. Would he welcome that kind of pressure? Would he sign himself up for a situation where the feeling is that, once again, he is a short-term solution. Perhaps he is willing to realize that at this point in career, and perhaps not.
If asked to raise my hand in favor of signing Manning, consider me on board. He's a great player with a great work ethic who would fit in well with this fan base and football city. Plus, I'd much rather have him in Denver than Kansas City or any other AFC team.
The Broncos should, as a professional sports organization, do their due diligence regarding any player that has the potential to help the team. However, the Broncos are not one just one player away from winning. In the games that we lost last year (under the Tebow regime), quarterback play was not the beginning and end of why we lost (though I have been quick to say it was a reason under Orton). That said, adding Manning to the team as it stands now will not have the impact that everyone seems to be hoping for.
This type of quick-fix mercenary QB acquisition traditionally doesn't work. Few people remember that Joe Namath finished his career with the Rams. Fewer remember that Johnny Unitas ended his run with the Chargers. Then there's the whole Favre debacle in recent years. Experiments like this don't end well... Just ask Eric Mangini and Brad Childress. If we bring Manning in and he fails, it will set the Broncos back a few years from being a contender.
Then there's the whole Tebow thing. Some people say that Tebow could learn from Manning. I am not one of those people. Tebow, like it or not, has earned the right to sink or swim. No amount of pine riding is going to prepare him to play any better in the NFL. He sat most of 2010 and a quarter of 2011, he's done his time and it's time to see what we got. Personally, I'm not sure what he's capable of, but I'd like to find out before we allow ourselves to be distracted by shiny objects.
Lastly, there has been a lot of twitter conversation about Manning bringing #18 to Denver. Let us not forget that there has only ever been one #18 in Broncos history and his name was Frank Tripucka. #18 was the first jersey to be retired by the Broncos and nobody has worn it since. If for whatever reason the stars align and Manning does come to Denver, we as fans need to hold Frank in high regard for what he did for the Broncos and not even entertain the idea that Manning could somehow wear that number. Unretiring numbers may work in Seattle, but that kind of disrespect certainly shouldn't fly for the Broncos or their fans. It sets a dirty precedent that fifty years from now some hotshot could come to Denver and demand #7 or #44... We just can't let that happen. Ever.
By my count, it is 5-3 in favor of going after Manning, or right around 60%. The writers here - and around the web - are a good cross-section of what the members of Broncos Country are thinking. John Elway's job is to put the best 53 players on the Denver Broncos each and every year. His job is to equip his coaching staff with the tools they need to win as many games as possible - to win the AFC West, to make the playoffs and to compete for the Super Bowl. Any player, and I stress, ANY PLAYER, that is available that can improve the Denver Broncos should be looked at. Elway owes it to the team, the fans and the other players in the locker room.
I don't know if the Broncos will win the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. The fact that they are in, and looking to be aggressive, is a positive sign to me, that Pat Bowlen, John Elway and Brian Xanders are trying to win. They are trying to win now, and will leave no stone unturned in order to do that.