DENVER (CBS4) – Broncos fans know it’s coming and they’re bracing for it.
Peyton Manning likely will make an announcement sometime in the next few weeks to reveal whether or not he is going to retire.
As fans of the Orange & Blue hold their breath, here are five guesses about when No. 18 might really hang up the cleats.
1. March 8, 2015 – Manning owns most of the major quarterback records in the NFL books and he has a Super Bowl win on his resume. Most NFL players would be plenty happy with that as their legacy, and maybe Manning is, too. Manning’s health (strained quad) is a minor concern, so is the dip in production he experienced in the second half of the season. The real question here is his desire. New head coach Gary Kubiak and the team’s top brass have said they would welcome Manning back, but they would love to know before March 10 when free agency begins.
2. April 18, 2016 – April 18, 1995, was the date another legendary NFL quarterback — Joe Montana — retired. If Manning returns and plays for the full 2015 season, everyone and their mother will be wondering if they have seen Manning in an NFL uniform for the last time. It might take Manning several months to make his decision, and mid-April sounds like a logical time that he might decide to call it a career. The NFL Draft would be two weeks later, and it would give the Broncos time to decide if they want to pick a QB in that draft.
3. Jan. 6, 2016 – Of course there’s always the chance Manning comes to the conclusion midway through next season that it will be his last season. He might make it public that he plans to retire after the season is over, and the team could use that as a rallying cry to fight their way into the playoffs. The Broncos might be playing in the playoffs’ Wild Card weekend, and if they were to lose Manning might quickly orchestrate a trade back to Indianapolis for a day so he can retire as a Colt.
4. May 2, 2017 – May 2 was a sad day in Broncos history. It was the day John Elway retired from pro football. Elway walked away after leading the Broncos to two consecutive Super Bowl wins. Manning would certainly love to follow such a path, but Father Time may be blocking his way. If Manning were to return to the Broncos and Denver were to win the next two Super Bowls — Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara and Super Bowl LI in Houston — Manning could go out smiling (perhaps with a bigger smile than even Elway did).
4. March 1, 2017 – There’s also the possibility Manning has his sights set on playing through the end of the five year contract he signed with the Broncos in 2012, regardless of how each of those seasons goes. Picking a March 1 retirement date after those five seasons are complete seems to make sense.
6. Dec. 29, 2020 – Manning surprised the football world once by coming back from an injury that required four neck surgeries and helping the Broncos become an elite team once again. For him to play well into his 40s would certainly shock everyone all over again. Not many NFL quarterbacks have eclipsed that 40-years-old barrier, but it has happened. Warren Moon and Vinny Testaverde were both 44 when they retired. Testaverde retired on Dec. 29, 2007, and there’s always the far out chance Manning holds out on retirement until his 44th year, too.