Charlie Campbell of WalterFootball.com reported Monday the Denver Broncos are shifting their focus to other options at quarterback—be it re-signing Brock Osweiler or looking toward the draft for a long-term replacement for Manning.
Campbell added that the relationship between Manning and Broncos general manager John Elway soured during the past season, which would only point more to the two sides splitting up.
Manning hasn't explicitly confirmed he will retire this offseason, deflecting the question after his team's Super Bowl 50 win (starts at 50-second mark):
Elway said he and the Broncos will let Manning come to his own decision on his own time, per ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold:
I think that it's important for him -- the key thing is for him to want to come back. That's why it’s not really what we want to do. I think the important thing is it's going to be his decision. Where we get a chance to sit and talk to him -- and that's why it's up to Peyton to see that process -- where he is, where he is in his career, what he thinks he can do, how he can play, what he wants to do from here on out.
Legwold noted, however, that Manning's $19 million base salary becomes guaranteed March 9. If he hasn't decided his future by then, Elway will have to determine whether he plans on having the legendary quarterback around next season.
The timing would seemingly be perfect for Manning to walk away from his playing career. Like Elway, he has the opportunity to go out on top after his team won a title. Broncos running back C.J. Anderson told NFL Total Access (via NFL.com's Tyler Dragon) that he believes Manning should retire on a high note: "Let him ride off into the sunset in the correct way. What else does he have to do? He's got five MVPs, two Super Bowl rings, he's first in every statistical category. My man 18, man, walk off, man. ... It was a pleasure one-eight. I had fun with you."
Manning may determine he wants to continue playing, though. Should that happen, the Broncos would be better off moving on and elevating Osweiler as long as they can re-sign him in free agency, as he arguably outperformed Manning during the regular season:
|Peyton Manning vs. Brock Osweiler—2015 Stats|
Gambling on Osweiler's future is a better bet than trying to wring one more year out of a clearly declining Manning, who turns 40 in March.
Should Manning become available, he won't be lacking in potential suitors. On the Feb. 10 episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Magic Johnson jokingly attempted to recruit him to the Los Angeles Rams:
The idea of Manning ever moving from the Indianapolis Colts once seemed unthinkable until the team drafted Andrew Luck and ushered the surefire Hall of Famer out the door.
History could repeat itself to a certain extent if he puts off his retirement for at least another year.