The Denver Broncos may be the reigning Super Bowl champions, but they'll face a number of critical decisions in the offseason that will impact whether they can successfully defend their Lombardi Trophy next year.
Super Bowl MVP Von Miller is set to be a free agent, and the quarterback position is in limbo with Peyton Manning mulling retirement and Brock Osweiler potentially headed toward free agency. General manager John Elway discussed both Manning and Miller at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday.
Kevin Patra of NFL.com shared Elway’s comments on Miller: “We're discussing with Von. We've exchanged some offers. We'll continue to meet with his representatives. We feel good about it. Obviously with the career he's had already and the way that he played this year, we're very hopeful to get something done.”
Patra noted Elway isn’t sure if the team will reach a deal with Miller before the March 1 franchise-tag deadline. Patra cited a report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who noted that “the sides were optimistic a deal could be struck before the deadline, which could open up the tag for Osweiler.”
Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk pointed out that defensive end Malik Jackson is also set to become a free agent, which could impact the urgency with which Denver attacks Miller’s contract talks.
Miller and the pass rush set the tone in Denver’s 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl. Miller took home MVP honors with six combined tackles, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles that set up Broncos scores.
While the 26-year-old Miller is likely more important to Denver’s future than the 39-year-old Manning, whether the future Hall of Fame quarterback will retire is another major storyline in the offseason. Patra shared Elway’s comments on the signal-caller.
“I met with Peyton a couple nights ago and we had a good talk," he said. "As I said after the game, we'll give him as much time as he needs. He still needs some more time so we're going to afford him that time. He deserves it after 18 years in this league.”
Patra also pointed out that “the Broncos executive shot down suggestions that he needs Manning's decision sooner rather than later so he can move forward on contract negotiations with Brock Osweiler.”
Elway discussed the situation further, per Patra:
We're really not in a hurry. It's really fluid. We know where Brock is and he knows what we have to offer. We still have a great deal of interest in Brock and we'd like to do something with Brock. We'll start down those tracks and we'll start talking to Brock about a new contract and see what we can do there. But with that in mind, also affording Peyton the time that he deserves. We're not in any rush. Like I said we have 12 days and we don't feel like we're in a rush there. We'll continue to talk to Peyton during that time and continue to work with Brock and get something done with Brock.
Patra added that “the overwhelming belief is that Manning will retire.”
“The Broncos will need to do something before Manning’s $19 million salary becomes guaranteed on March 9,” Gantt noted.
While Manning is the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown passes and is one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, Denver would be wise to turn to Osweiler over the veteran from a 2015 statistical standpoint:
|Denver Broncos Quarterbacks 2015|
|Games||Completion Percentage||Passing Yards||Passing Touchdowns||Interceptions|
Manning struggled from an individual numbers perspective and is also considering retirement in the midst of a tumultuous offseason.
His name was referenced in a lawsuit against the University of Tennessee regarding how it handled sexual assaults, and sexual assault allegations made against Manning when he was at the school recently resurfaced and made headlines. The NFL is also investigating HGH allegations against the quarterback.