It is no secret that Peyton Manning could be playing his final season in the NFL. The belief that retirement is around the corner for Manning continues to surface as the Denver Broncos prepare to play in the Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers. There is a chance that Manning could be gone next season while Brock Osweiler becomes a free agent. What does the future look like for the Broncos at the quarterback position?
When Manning first got injured with the partially torn plantar fascia, he reportedly told teammates he fully intended to play next season. However, Manning might be changing his tune with the Broncos in the Super Bowl. According to ESPN.com, NFL Film's camera caught an exchange between Manning and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick following the AFC Championship Game where the quarterback said, "Hey, listen, this might be my last rodeo. So, it sure has been a pleasure."
This admission of retirement is not a surprise to fans nor to the Denver Broncos organization. The issue is the team might not have a quarterback under contract heading into the offseason. Backup and partial-starter Osweiler is going to be a free agent and is likely not interested in accepting a discount. Osweiler was 5-2 as a starter and certainly showed some promise while replacing Manning this season, but was it enough for the Broncos to open their wallet and bring him back as a potential starter? According to general manager John Elway (via 104.3 The Fan), "We're hoping he's here for a long, long time."
The Broncos have some options at the quarterback spot. They could re-sign Osweiler while drafting a rookie and allow the two players to battle things out. The Broncos will not grab a quarterback early, but players like Kevin Hogan, Connor Cook and Christian Hackenberg could be options in a later round. Carson Wentz or Jared Goff would require a trade up in the draft. Head coach Gary Kubiak could let the competition play itself out. The Broncos have solid offensive weapons that will make any quarterback's job easy to bringing in a rookie to start might not be an issue.
The Broncos could also chase Sam Bradford. According to Philly.com, Denver is a landing spot for the quarterback and a favorable one considering what the team has to offer in terms of wide receivers and running backs. Denver will not overpay on a quarterback which means Bradford's reported $25 million salary demands will not be met. But if the quarterback comes with a reasonable price tag, they might take a look.
For now, Kubiak continues to push his faith in Osweiler. The head coach has been the quarterback's biggest supporter. If Denver re-signs him to a nice contract, there is a good chance he takes over in 2016.
"We think the world of Brock," Kubiak said, via the Denver Post. "Obviously there's no discussion right now about what's happening, (Brock being a free agent after this year) those types of things. He's done a hell of a job. He's played extremely well in some tough situations, very tough kid. He knows exactly what we think of him. I'm very proud of him and I know he'll be ready to go."