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Is 2013-2014 Peyton Manning's Last Shot at Another Super Bowl?

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Is 2013-2014 Peyton Manning's Last Shot at Another Super Bowl?
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If all goes well, veteran quarterback Peyton Manning will play through the 2016 NFL season.

With four years remaining on his five-year contract, Manning would be 40 years old when his contract expires—if he chooses to play that long.  According to Manning, there is a possibility of him finishing out his contract.

"If I can still go out there and perform and be effective, and still enjoy doing it, I will do it," Manning told CBSSports.com's Senior NFL Columnist Pete Prisco when asked if he would play out his contract.

So, Peyton and the Broncos have four more years—and four more chances—to win a Super Bowl.

Or do they?

According to Spotrac.com, Manning is scheduled to have cap hits of $17.5 million in both 2013 and 2014 and $21.5 million in both 2015 and 2016.  If he stays healthy, the Broncos own the rights to him for four more years.

But it's not Peyton's contract that the Broncos have to worry about.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Von Miller is one of the many stars that will be free agents in the next two years.

The Broncos are in win-now mode, but several key players will have their contracts expire in the looming years to come.

Next offseason, cornerback Tony Carter, offensive tackle Ryan Clady, punter Britton Colquitt, wide receiver Eric Decker, cornerback Chris Harris Jr., return specialist Trindon Holliday, offensive guard Zane Beadles and linebacker Wesley Woodyard will all become free agents.  All eight of those players were key contributors in Denver last season.

Pass-rusher Shaun Phillips, center J.D. Walton, and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will also see their contracts expire in 2014.

Meanwhile, tight end Joel Dreessen, offensive tackle Orlando Franklin, middle linebacker Nate Irving, cornerback Champ Bailey, tight end Jacob Tamme, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, defensive tackles Terrence Knighton and Kevin Vickerson, wide receiver Wes Welker, linebacker Von Miller and safety Rahim Moore will become free agents in 2015.

That's 22 players—with many starters among them—that could all be gone in two years.

Is 2013 Manning's last shot at another SB?

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The Broncos, of course, will not lose all of those players—but they will not be able to keep all of them, either.  By the time 2015 rolls around, Denver's roster will look a lot different than it does today.

Denver will try to extend the contracts of several of the players—Clady, Colquitt, Thomas, Decker and Miller among them—before they run out, but the future is impossible to predict.  Who knows who will become the next Elvis Dumervil; contract disputes often turn ugly and could cost the team more key contributors.

That means Manning realistically has approximately two more years before things start to get sticky in Denver.  And that's without even mentioning his health and physical condition—he will be 39 in two years.

It seems that Manning's best shot to win another Super Bowl will come in 2013.  If all goes well (e.g. Manning stays healthy and the Broncos' key contributors remain as such), Peyton theoretically has four more chances, but his—and the Broncos'—window is quickly closing.

That puts pressure on Manning and his teammates to get the job done now while they are all still together, and that's a good thing.  Playmakers make big plays when it matters the most, and great teams step up when championships are on the line.

Manning will have to step up his postseason performance and the team will rally around him to get back to the Super Bowl.  The 2013-2014 season may not be Manning's final shot to win a championship, but it will certainly be one of his last.

Your move, Peyton.

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