It’s never boring in Broncos Country and this week was no different. Denver was once again making national headlines as they made a serious run at free agent superstar quarterback Peyton Manning.
Manning became a free agent last week when he was cut by the Indianapolis Colts after 14 years. Most people, myself included, thought that Denver would not be a major player in the Manning sweepstakes. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Broncos not only pursued Manning, they quickly became one of his leading suitors and were the first team to get him for a recruiting visit. The Manning watch built up throughout the weekend, and last night Denver Sportscaster Vic Lombardi went so far as to tweet that the Broncos are “95% confident” they will sign Manning. Does this mean that it is a done deal? Of course not. Does it mean that excitement and debate is at an all-time high in Broncos Country? Absolutely!
Most of the controversy surrounding the possible signing of Manning centers on Tim Tebow. There isn’t a more polarizing figure in sports, so naturally any story involving him is equally polarizing. There is a hard-line contingent of Tebow supporters who want nothing more than for him to be quarterback and they are up in arms over the possibility of signing Manning. At this point, I believe that contingent of Broncos Country has lost their objectivity.
Make no mistake about it, I love Tim Tebow. If you go back and read my articles from the 2011 season, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who supported Tebow as ardently as I did. He led the Broncos to a great year and provided an excitement in Broncos Country that has been missing for a long time. Denver won the AFC West title and a playoff game for the first time since 2005, and he revitalized the organization and put them back on the league map. This is a team on the rise for the first time in several years, and most fans believe the dark days of 2010 are behind us to stay. There are a lot of people to thank for this turnaround, including John Elway, but Tebow deserves a large share of the praise.
Yet, with all that said, Denver is still a young team that has a lot of work to do if they want to contend for a championship. Moreover, a lot of that work needs to be done by Tebow himself. He has to improve measurably as a passer if he is going to take the Broncos offense to the next level. I do believe that he can be an effective quarterback in this league, but I also realize that he has a long way to go to become elite.
Many of the fanatical Tebow supporters believe that pursuing Manning is an indictment on Tebow by the organization. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It simply boils down to the fact that in the rare instance when an all-time great quarterback is available as a free agent, the Broncos have to look into it and do their due diligence. They would be doing a disservice to the fans otherwise. The main goal after all, is being the very best they can be at every single position.
The bottom line is this: Peyton Manning will make the Broncos a Super Bowl contender immediately, period. The Broncos will simply be a better team in 2012 with Manning behind center. I know he is coming off a major injury, I know he is going to be 36 years old soon, and I know there is no guarantee he can get back to 100%. However, he still makes the Denver Broncos better. In a league that is absolutely driven by the quality of your quarterback, taking this risk is worth it. Denver would automatically become the favorite in the AFC West and a Super Bowl window would open up. A legitimate Super Bowl window is priceless, and teams need to take advantage of that opportunity when it arises. It has also been reported that Manning will be willing to write his contract to help protect the team that signs him financially. He essentially comes with his own insurance policy! This will ease the risk on the Broncos and makes signing him even more worthwhile.
Speaking of finances, some critics believe that Denver should spend their money on several other marquee free agents in order to fill multiple holes rather than use it on Manning. While it’s true that a guy like Peyton Manning won’t come cheap, the Broncos are currently more than $40 million under the salary cap. So not only do they have the spending power available to outbid other suitors for Manning, but they will certainly have a pile of cash left over to go after additional free agents. And if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that sports stars like to play together. There is no doubt in my mind that if the Broncos manage to sign Manning, Denver will automatically become THE free agent destination in the NFL. He could be the first of several impact players to head to the Rockies. Guys like Mario Williams, Dallas Clark, LaRon Landry, Reggie Wayne, and Vincent Jackson would all at least take a look at what’s going on in Denver. The possibilities are endless.
In a perfect world, Tim Tebow would stay in Denver and learn under Manning in the event he becomes a Bronco. Tim could not only work on his mechanics and skills, but he could improve mentally and get an education from one of the best to ever play the game. That essentially is what Aaron Rodgers did in Green Bay, and that seems to have worked out just fine. Unfortunately, the word from several outlets is that Tebow would not remain in Denver if Manning comes aboard. He understandably is shaken from this whole ordeal and would most likely want to move on. Denver would probably trade him for picks to help bring in more talent. This outcome would be disappointing, especially since I have cheered so hard for Tim Tebow and am grateful for his work as a Denver Bronco. Nevertheless, the only thing a sports fan can truly ask of their team is that they seriously try and win the Super Bowl, and signing Peyton Manning is an indication that the Broncos want to contend NOW. John Elway believes this move is for the best, and I for one agree with him.