Peyton Manning Trade Rumors: Latest News and Speculation on Broncos QB

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent III

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The Denver Broncos reportedly tried to trade legendary quarterback Peyton Manning to the Houston Texans earlier this offseason. However, both the Texans and Broncos have denied the rumor. 

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Conflicting Reports Surrounding Reported Manning Trade Talks

Wednesday, June 24

On June 23, 94.1 FM Denver/96.9 FM Boulder radio host Benjamin Allbright dropped quite a scoop on the NFL world regarding Manning:

Broncos attempted to trade Peyton Manning this off-season to the Houston Texans per more than one source in position to know. Certain elements of Broncos organization wanted Osweiler era to begin this season. Have two unrelated official sources on this, would be a hilariously oddly coordinated lie, if what they were telling me was untrue.

On June 24, SportsRadio 610 (via CBS Houston) provided more detail on the reported talks, saying the Texans had "very preliminary" negotiations with the Broncos about a potential Manning deal. SportsRadio claimed the talks took place before Manning re-negotiated his deal with the Broncos, and that the Texans would have had to restructure the quarterback's deal to make it work. 

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network compared the rumor to what the Texans did with San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. The Texans were doing their "due diligence" on QB's, calling multiple teams regarding the availability of their signal caller. 

Allbright referred to how some in Denver wanted Brock Osweiler's tenure as Manning's successor to start in 2015. Osweiler has long been thought of as the next Broncos QB but is largely unproven, attempting just 30 passes in three NFL seasons.

Manning's agent, Tom Condon, denied the rumor as well, reported by Pro Football Talk"Neither the Texans, the Broncos, or Peyton Manning ever talked to me about a trade anywhere."

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk raised a strong point in his analysis of the Manning trade rumor:

My first reaction was to scoff, but then I remembered this item from PFT regarding the presence of a no-trade clause for 2015 in Manning's revised contract. Manning didn't need to ask for a no-trade clause unless he feared that his restructured contract, with a base salary of only $15 million, would make another team more likely to do the deal.

It would be interesting to know the timing of the implementation of Manning's no-trade clause and when the reported talks with the Texans heated up most.

Houston has two former Tom Brady backups in Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett jockeying for the starting gig at the game's most important position. Hoyer and Mallett are familiar with Texans coach Bill O'Brien, who was an assistant in New England in his prior NFL stint.

The Texans nevertheless had to have been intrigued by the idea of adding Manning because they are essentially competent play under center away from being a legitimate playoff team. Manning also used to torch Houston on a regular basis in the AFC South as a member of the Indianapolis Colts, so that could have been another selling point.

Broncos general manager John Elway traded away Tim Tebow and signed Manning in the first place, but this second dalliance with sending a popular signal-caller out of town is quite a different matter.

Manning is now 39 years old, threw three touchdowns and six interceptions in the final four games of the 2014 campaign and averaged just 4.59 yards per attempt in a playoff loss to the Colts. However, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Manning played those games with a torn right quadriceps muscle.

Concerns still have to be lingering about Manning's waning arm strength, but there isn't a more cerebral quarterback in football. An impeccable football IQ and pinpoint accuracy help Manning make up for a lot of physical limitations at this late stage of his career.

Since Manning is still in a Broncos uniform, it stands to reason the trade talks with Houston, if they happened at all, never really heated up. There had to have been debate in Denver about whether to retain Manning, especially with a new coaching staff led by Gary Kubiak coming in.

There has been innate risk surrounding Manning ever since he arrived with the Broncos, and he's played exceptionally well for the most part. It will be fascinating to see how Manning holds up this year and whether the Texans can reach the postseason with either Hoyer or Mallett throwing passes.