Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware says he expects quarterback Peyton Manning to return next season.
Ware told USA Today he has spoken to Manning since Denver was beaten 24-13 by the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Divisional Playoff on Sunday, the team's second home playoff defeat in the past three seasons.
"Me and Peyton will always talk back and forth about things. Now he's just looking forward to the next season and how we can get better," Ware told USA Today. "I think he'll be back. I feel like he still has a couple years in him."
Broncos general manager and vice president of football operations John Elway and Manning’s former coach with the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy, have recently said they expect Manning to suit up for his 18th season.
Manning dealt with a severe quad injury during the latter part of the season and only threw for 211 yards in the loss to the Colts.
"He just needs time to get healthy, rest," Ware said, according to USA Today. "Calm the brain down. Turn it off a little bit and then hit the restart button once it's time."
Manning completed 66 percent of his passes during the regular season for 4,727 yards, 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions and still has two years and $38 million left on his contract. His 2015 salary, worth $19 million, is fully guaranteed if he is on the team’s roster on March 9.
If Manning does return next season, he will be playing for a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator, as Denver dismissed its entire coaching staff following the playoff loss. The Broncos did, however, reportedly interview offensive coordinator Adam Gase for the team's head coaching role.
- Scooby Axson