ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos head coaching candidates don't know if they'd inherit one of the all-time great quarterbacks or a guy who's thrown just 30 passes in three seasons.
By this time in his career, Aaron Rodgers was about to take over Green Bay's offense following a three-year apprenticeship under Brett Favre. With Peyton Manning mulling retirement, Brock Osweiler might be in that same situation in Denver.
Or he might be holding a clipboard again next fall.
As GM John Elway looks for a new head coach after parting ways with John Fox, he said he knows the candidates will want to know Manning's intentions. But he's asked his quarterback not to make a rash decision and to take a month or so to clear his head.
So the contenders Elway is interviewing this weekend - Vance Joseph on Friday and Gary Kubiak on Sunday - won't know if they'd be taking over an offense run by the five-time MVP or a QB whose next NFL start will be his first.
''There is no question the candidates are going to want to know where Peyton is'' in his return-or-retire determination, Elway said. ''I'm going to say the same thing I'm telling you all right now: We don't know exactly what he's going to do. We'll just to have to wait and see and we'll go from there.''
That's the same slant Osweiler is taking.
''I will approach this offseason the same exact way whether he comes back or doesn't come back,'' Osweiler said. ''And regardless of that situation, I truly believe if you work hard, you prepare hard, you don't need to get ready'' for anything new. ''I've worked hard, I've prepared every single week like I'm the starter. So moving forward, none of that will change.''
Elway likes what he hears from - and sees in - Osweiler, the 6-foot-8 passer he selected in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Arizona State.
''Brock has made that progress that you would hope he would make,'' Elway said. ''What's difficult is he hasn't gotten a lot of playing time. When that time comes, we'll see where he is. (But) the training that he's gotten up to this point is second to none.''
If Manning retires, that would free up $19 million over each of the next two seasons and allow the Broncos to really see what they have in Osweiler, who was mostly a backup in college, too. He started just one season for the Sun Devils.
Osweiler mopped up four games this season and threw his first career touchdown pass against Oakland last month.
No matter who's under center, the offense figures to get a makeover under a new coach.
Elway kicked off a busy weekend of interviews by meeting Friday with Joseph, the Bengals defensive backs coach who played at Colorado, where he was a backup QB and DB for the Buffaloes.
Former Bills head coach Doug Marrone canceled an interview with the Broncos that was scheduled for Saturday. Marrone had been viewed as someone who would bring the toughness and discipline Elway covets after Denver's lackluster effort Sunday in a 24-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Also withdrawing his name from consideration was Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
These developments point to the possibility that Kubiak, the Ravens offensive coordinator, is considered the favorite for the job given his ties to Elway and Denver.
Kubiak was Elway's backup QB from 1983-91 and was Denver's offensive coordinator from 1995-2005 under Mike Shanahan. He left in 2006 to coach the Houston Texans, a gig that lasted until 2013, when he had a health scare. Kubiak was fired with three games left in that season and joined the Ravens as their offensive coordinator last year.
In Baltimore, Kubiak installed the zone-blocking system he learned in Denver and the Ravens improved from 30th in the league in rushing in 2013 to eighth last season. He said last week that he had no interest in another head coaching job, but that was before the Broncos and Fox parted ways Monday.
Elway began his search by interviewing in-house candidate Adam Gase, the Broncos offensive coordinator, on Thursday after Gase lost out to Jim Tomsula for the 49ers' vacancy. Manning has strongly endorsed Gase as a head coaching candidate.
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