When we look back at this whole situation in a few years, it will be patently obvious that it was nothing more than a way for John Elway to get rid of Tim Tebow.
That is not to say that Manning can't win or won't be a significant upgrade over Tebow (because he will). But to expect him to be the player he was before is asking too much.
Mike Mayock of the NFL Network seemed to be speaking for a lot of people, when he said on the air—even before Manning had made his decision—that the Broncos can all but bank on a Super Bowl.
The bottom line is, this guy’s special. There’s only been a couple of guys like him in the history of the NFL. If he’s healthy and playing at his level, then the only two words that come to my mind are Super Bowl.
But there is that caveat: If he's healthy...
Even Las Vegas has hopped on the Broncos' bandwagon, with Bovada putting them at a 12:1 favorite to win the Super Bowl. They have the same odds as Houston and New Orleans and are ahead of San Francisco, Baltimore, Philadelphia and the defending champion Giants.
No one knows what Manning is going to be able to do in game action.
We can look at all the grainy video and practice footage we want. Until he steps in between the lines for an actual game, gets hit, gets back up and shows the same skills—or at least close to the same—that he had before all his neck problems, then we can talk about Super Bowls and MVP awards and how that contract looks like a bargain.
The Broncos needed to do something just to say they could get rid of Tebow. Their best course of action was to sign one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
Even with all the previous accolades that Manning has earned, there is no telling whether or not he will be that player again.
He will be 36 years old, playing outdoors primarily in a cold weather environment for the first time in his football career, having missed an entire season, with a team that doesn't have a lot of offensive weapons.
Perhaps the Broncos have some grand plan to upgrade their receiving corps before the season begins.
Even with all the possibilities out there, the Broncos gave Manning too much and are expecting a lot more than they should from a player who hasn't taken a snap in a real game in over 14 months.
The Super Bowl or bust mantra is going to end with a resounding crash.