Peyton Manning: Should he Take a Pay Cut?


Questions abound for the Denver Broncos and Broncos Country.

Who will John Elway bring back of his own free agents? Will Peyton Manning return? Who will Elway target when free agency begins in a few weeks? What will the Broncos do with the draft? How will Denver handle Brock Osweiler?

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According to just about everyone, we can scratch one of those off the list: Manning will come back and his announcement could come this week. That brings the next question to light – no, it is not whether Manning and new coach Gary Kubiak can co-exist. The people involved are brilliant football minds, so it will work. It’s not whether Manning has anything left. Given how he played the first part of the season when he was producing at yet another MVP-type performance, it’s hard to believe he would drop off that fast without an injury pestering him. So he will be back to his customary level.

The question: Should Manning reduce his salary? As it stands now, the Broncos have around $27 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap. There’s no question Elway and the front office will make moves to make that number shoot up even higher. If they make these moves, it would boost the Broncos’ cap space to the mid-$30 million range.

That cap number includes Manning’s $19 million salary for 2015. One item worth noting: Manning does not have to pass a physical to get his salary. That was in place the first three seasons but is not the case now. If Manning wants to pass a physical, it is under his own volition.

If Manning does take a reduction in salary to $11 or $12 million (if it’s even allowed to drop that far) it would put the team at over $40 million in cap space.

Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) after their loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts won 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

That brings back the question: Should Manning reduce his salary? There’s no way I’m going to say Manning should offer to do it. It’s not my money or my life. And don’t give me the “it’s best for the team.” Let’s see those people who shout the loudest that Manning should reduce his salary give up that much money if it was offered to them. Whose to say Manning hasn’t already gone to Elway and offered to reduce his salary?

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The person who knows better than anyone whether Manning needs to reduce his salary is Elway. There is no one in the NFL who handles the salary cap better, so if he doesn’t go to Manning, then it’s not a problem.

Would it help the team? That depends on what Elway does in free agency, but if you look at the numbers, there’s no question it’s beneficial. On its face it appears it gives the Broncos a even more breathing room for the cap. But you won’t see me exclaim this guy “needs to do this or that.” I know how I feel when people do that in my life, so it’s hypocritical of me to do that here.

What I will say is the Broncos have the best guy available to answer this question and he will do what is best for the team. Just as he has done for Denver since he first arrived here. We got proof of that at Kubiak’s introductory news conference when Elway said it’s not just about Manning but the other 52 guys on the roster.

That shows yet again all that matters to Elway is the Broncos, and whatever he chooses on this question is what’s best for business.

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Jan 13, 2015; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway speaks to the media at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports