Ladies and gentlemen, the “Where Will Peyton Manning Go?” saga has finally ended. After a few weeks of nonstop speculation, Manning, the legendary Indianapolis Colts quarterback, signed a five-year, $96 million deal with the Denver Broncos and was introduced to the Denver media at a press conference on Tuesday, March 20.
The move in itself instantly makes the Broncos the favorite in the AFC West regardless of what other moves they make in free agency, and they could challenge the AFC’s top competition, which, to me, are New England and Baltimore, for a Super Bowl berth. Manning is exactly the dynamic offensive player the Broncos need to make them an upper-echelon team.
While it is totally understandable to put Manning’s health into question considering he’s had a plethora of surgeries in the last few years, ask yourself this: would you rather have a recovering Peyton Manning throwing to a talented group of wide receivers or the revolving quarterback door that the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs employ and an interception-happy Philip Rivers?
I’ll take Manning at 50 percent over any quarterback in a division so lacking in talent any day of the year. Another factor that bodes well for Manning is that quarterbacks like Brett Favre and Tom Brady have played or are playing at elite levels at an age where many quarterbacks decline. Favre played until he was 40 years old and Brady, whose career was thought to be in jeopardy after he suffered season-ending and possibly career-threatening knee injuries in 2008, will be 35 by the time the 2012-2013 season starts.
At first, I wasn’t a supporter of Manning going to Denver for a few reasons. First, Manning played all of his home games indoors and didn’t have to go play in cold weather very often. In Denver, he’s going to be playing in cold weather and in very thin air for the majority of the next five seasons, assuming he lasts through the contract.
Second, I felt he had a greater chance to win a title if he had joined a team like Arizona or San Francisco just because the NFC as a whole is weaker.
Finally, there’s Tim Tebow, although now we’ve found out he won’t be there much longer.
Some people argue Tebow should stay and learn under Manning, which could be a great learning experience for everyone’s favorite holy roller. Others want to see him in the spotlight in some other city and routinely have 10-26, 88-yard game in which 60 of them come in the fourth quarter, which is fine, because that’s why Denver is shopping him around in favor of their real Lord and Savior.
Either way, Manning is the Broncos’ answer for the present and future.