Peyton Manning is a free agent, and who knows where he wants to work next. But the Broncos need to do whatever it takes to get him to Denver. Kidnap his pets (joking), offer him ownership of the team (half joking), give him the Hope Diamond or the means by which to procure it himself (totally not joking), whatever. If the Denver Broncos don’t offer everything they possibly can in pursuit of Manning, I will be mightily pissed off. There I said it.
The Broncos are in a dark place. Their current quarterback is good at everything except passing, which as a fan makes you kind of embarrassed to think of it that way. Yet, despite this glaring gap in their repertoire, they made it to the second round of the playoffs and can’t expect to draft a quality passing prospect until at least 2013. One option would be to trade away every player and pick of value that they have to move up in the draft and grab somebody worthwhile. Another more elegant and simpler strategy, though, would be to write a big fat check to Peyton Manning and draft for defense.
I’m sure Tim Tebow is a nice enough guy, and his penchant for timely playmaking is fantastic. But the league through its rule changes and penalty guidelines is moving every day towards rewarding the pocket passer. Why would you reinvent your entire team in the hopes of catching fire with a running quarterback when you can find success much more easily with a passing game? To ignore the advantages of past-first talent means leaving yards, points and, more importantly, wins on the table.
The Manning solution is almost too easy. He’s a free agent, so you don’t need to give up any personnel or picks to get him. All you need to do is write a gigantic check that isn’t even our money (it’s team owner Pat Bowlen’s money). Even if he is here for only two or three years, you get your hands on one of the best quarterbacks ever to play the game. Manning has already said that he will accept an incentive laden contract, so the team might be able to get out after a couple of years if things aren’t working as planned. Of course, this assumes that Manning is healthy and fully recovered from his recent spate of surgeries.
The availability of an elite quarterback almost never happens, and in this case is the result of a perfect storm. Manning was injured the same year his $28 million roster bonus came due. Meanwhile, the team stunk so much without Manning that they earned the right to draft the best quarterback prospect since John Elway. From the Colt’s perspective, all they have to do is release Manning, and they save millions of dollars while they waltz into another era with an elite quarterback. Meanwhile, Manning ironically loses his job because his team was so bad without him playing on it.
However it happened, Manning is available, and there is still some significant tread left on his tires. Signing him would immediately get the Broncos out of the pickle they find themselves in and launch them into the realm of title contenders. Manning can play for 2-4 more years, while his back up learns the finer points of running a pro-style, passing offense. When it comes time for Manning to finally retire, hopefully Denver will have seen another championship and can comfortably hand the reigns over to the heir apparent, Adam Weber. That dude can throw.