The Broncos announced on Thursday that Peyton Manning will return to the team in 2015.
Manning, who turns 39 this month, reportedly accepted a restructured contract that will see him take a $4 million pay cut. Denver placed the franchise tag on receiver Demaryius Thomas but could lose both fellow receiver Wes Welker and tight end Julius Thomas in free agency. Executive Vice President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway described new coach Gary Kubiak's offense as "perfect" for older quarterbacks.
"Peyton could fit in this offense very easily," Elway said last month. "It’s a lot more dependent on balance, so therefore Peyton is hopefully not going to have to throw the ball 50 or 55 times. I think for an older quarterback it’s a perfect system to be in. It’s really a great system for any quarterback but I think it’s even more helpful the older you get.”"
Manning attempted an average of 37.3 passes per game during the regular season, which ranked 12th in the NFL. He completed 66.2 percent of his pass attempts for 4,727 yards, 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Those numbers marked significant declines from the 2013 season (68.3 completion percentage, 5,477 yards, 55 touchdowns, 10 interceptions).
Manning was hampered by a quadriceps injury during the last month of the season reportedly underwent at least three neck surgeries a few years ago. SI.com's Joan Niesen wrote this week that personnel changes coupled with the implementation of Kubiak's offense could lead to a greater role for Denver's running backs, including C.J. Anderson.
"He’ll be back in Denver, back under center, but with a new coach, Gary Kubiak, and a tweaked offense—likely without slot receiver Wes Welker and tight end Julius Thomas, both of whom played a large part in Denver's record-setting 2013 offense," Niesen wrote. "Manning is healthy, but he’ll also be 39 years old when the 2015 season kicks off, and to expect the 300-yard performances that defined his first two-and-a-half years in Denver would be delusional. If the Broncos are going to get their aging quarterback his second ring, their hopes will lie in Anderson’s hands as much as those of any receiver, especially in Kubiak's system, which places a heavy emphasis on zone blocking and stretch run plays."
The Broncos went 12-4 last season and finished first in the AFC West before falling to the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs.