Report: Broncos Want Peyton Manning to Take a Pay Cut


According to a report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Denver Broncos actually do want Peyton Manning to take a pay cut, rather than just all the speculation that some people think he should.

(I am one of them).

Here is La Canfora’s full free agency report, headlined by this segment on Peyton Manning:

“Peyton Manning thing is coming down to money. It’s hardly a unanimous notion within the organization that it makes sense for Denver to pay Peyton Manning $19 million coming off last season, with the quarterback’s age and the ability to stay healthy in question. It remains to be seen if Manning would be willing to take a pay cut and do more than just move cap numbers around to best keep the team contending for a Super Bowl. Stay tuned. I suspect they get something done, but that the contract looks different than what was scheduled. I did a little number crunching and looks like Manning has made over $250M in his career in salary alone (not including endorsements, etc). This is the end. It’s time to take a cut. But that hasn’t been how he has been wired.” (emphasis mine)

Weird. Maybe the fans calling for Manning to take a salary reduction aren’t so crazy. The reasons for him doing so far outweigh the ones that do not. I don’t think the Broncos and Manning will let this thing get to an ugly ending, but certainly it makes the most sense for Manning to slice his salary up for the Broncos. He is — far and away — the highest paid Broncos player, and rightfully so. He’s the MVP. However…

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It doesn’t mean the Broncos are at all entitled to Manning taking a pay reduction. They agreed to a contract, Manning has held up his end of the bargain, and that’s the end of that. This year is different. Manning lost a bit of leverage — at least, in my opinion he did — when he publicly announced that he doesn’t know if he wants to play anymore. That would imply that, if he does come back at all, that he doesn’t want to play more than one more season.

If Manning is coming back knowing that 2015 is his final NFL season, then he should be willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win a championship. The Broncos can re-do the contract of Ryan Clady and also save some money, but Manning’s counting the most against the cap this year and the Broncos have limited funds to be able to keep even one of his favorite targets around.

Consider this: If Demaryius Thomas were somehow not able to be slapped with the franchise tag, the Broncos could be looking at losing three of the receivers responsible for the single greatest offensive season in NFL history in two years time. Now, Denver is going to be able to — at worst — tag Demaryius Thomas, but that’s a move that’s going to eat up a majority of their cap space.

They can’t let Thomas hit the open market, and Manning should know that. The Broncos want to get DT locked in long term, but no one knows when (or if) that will be. If Manning doesn’t take a pay cut, the Broncos have leftover whatever there is after DT is franchise tagged, which could be between 14- and $18 million. That’s not a lot considering how many needs this team has, and how many in-house free agents they are poised to lose anyway.

Had Manning retired at the end of this season — or if he for some reason still does — the Broncos would have an additional $20 million in cap space. That’s a hefty amount. They also wouldn’t have an elite quarterback, but that’s another story for another day.

Manning taking a pay cut would allow the Broncos to put the best team around him they can for one last Super Bowl run with him as quarterback. They already made it a tough decision for Manning to come back by hiring all new coaches. They’re making it even tougher with this news that they’re asking him to take a pay cut.

If Peyton comes back, at least after all this we’d know what he’s really about.