Could this postseason mark the last hurrah for Peyton Manning? It's possible, pending the results of an offseason exam on his surgically repaired neck, ESPN.com reported.
According to Chris Mortensen, Manning is expected to return in 2014 if everything checks out. However, should that upcoming exam reveal that Manning in at risk for additional injury, the Broncos' quarterback will "be forced to decide whether to retire." The decision will not be based at all on Denver's playoff results, per Mortensen.
The 37-year-old Manning raised speculation about his future this past week when he said, "The light is at the end of the tunnel for me, no question." The four-time league MVP made the comment leading up to Denver's AFC divisional playoff game Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
Manning sat out the 2011 season, his last with the Colts, due to a neck injury. Those 16 games were the only ones Manning has missed in his NFL career, counting two full seasons of action since joining the Broncos prior to the 2012 campaign.
The future Hall of Famer rewrote the record books in 2013, breaking Drew Brees' single-season passing yardage mark and Tom Brady's single-season touchdowns record. The Broncos also set a new standard for points in a season with 606.
Manning's contract runs through the 2016 season, though his guaranteed money runs out after next year. The Broncos do not have a sure-fire contingency plan in place should Manning opt for retirement -- his backup, second-year QB Brock Osweiler, is signed through 2015 and may take over the job eventually, but he has yet to make an NFL start. GALLERY: Biggest retirements of 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010