Next steps for Broncos with Peyton Manning set to retire
It has been reported today that Peyton Manning will announce his retirement from the NFL on Monday, leaving the Broncos officially in life after Manning and looking to 2016 and beyond.
The good news for Denver is that they just won a Super Bowl with Manning playing the worst football of his career and as bad as almost any passer in the league, and they have of course been expecting this development sine they hoisted the Lombardi trophy.
For Denver, their offseason priorities remain the same:
1. Continue to work on a long-term contract with Von Miller.
The Broncos handed Miller the exclusive-rights franchise tag to keep him around for the 2016 season, but the goal of both sides is to get him locked down to a long-term deal and keep one of the league’s most devastating defenders in-house. Miller was a one-man wrecking crew in the postseason, in particular, and has averaged over 85 total pressures in every full season he has played in the league. There may be no more dominant pure pass-rusher in the NFL, and he deserves to be paid like the game-changer that he is. Ndamukong Suh’s outlier contract has set an awkward precedent for Denver to negotiate against, so this contract is no walk in the park, and required the franchise tag to buy more time.
2. Try and keep Malik Jackson in town.
With Manning’s contract off the books, the Broncos can look to Malik Jackson and attempt to keep around a player who became a huge part of their rotation up front. In 2014, Jackson played 578 snaps and really broke out as an effective interior player, earning him an increase in playing time this season. In 2015, he played 849 snaps and was an integral part of their playoff run also. He brings consistent interior pressure, with only three other 3-4 defensive ends amassing more total pressures than Jackson did this season; two of those (J.J. Watt and Muhammad Wilkerson) played significant snaps on the edge, where pressures are easier to come by. Denver’s defense was so special this season not because of any one player, but because of the depth of impact players. Retaining Jackson is a big part of that success continuing.
3. Quantifying Brock Osweiler’s Value.
With no Manning, Brock Osweiler is now the presumed Denver starter, but is also a player whose career is seven starts old and who was bad enough this season that Denver felt a reckless and careless Peyton Manning with a near prohibitively bad arm was a better option to lead them down the stretch. In a league where even semi-viable passers earn big money, the Broncos are likely in the uncomfortable situation of needing to commit significant dollars to Osweiler without any real idea if he can be the guy going forward. Without him, however, the team is likely starting a rookie from day one, and not one of the top prospects, who will be long gone by the time they draft.