After a month of contemplating a return for the 2016 season, future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning has officially decided to call it quits following his Super Bowl 50 victory. The 5-time MVP and 2-time Super Bowl Champion called the Denver Broncos to inform them of his decision.
The Broncos officially announced Manning’s retirement today, and will hold a news conference on Monday for Peyton to discuss his decision. The choice comes as little surprise, as Peyton struggled to stay healthy for much of the season and looked like a shell of his former self.
The normally precise and efficient passer had career lows of 2,249 passing yards and 9 touchdowns, while also throwing more interceptions (17) than he had since 2002. Luckily, Denver’s elite defense was able to compensate for Manning’s struggles, enabling Denver to win its first Lombardi Trophy since 1999.
The quarterback of that 1999 Broncos squad and current executive vice president of football operations/general manager, John Elway, released a statement thanking Manning for his contributions:
“When you look at everything Peyton has accomplished as a player and person, it’s easy to see how fortunate we’ve been to have him on our team. Peyton was everything that we thought he was and even more — not only for the football team but in the community. I’m very thankful Peyton chose to play for the Denver Broncos, and I congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.”
With Manning’s announcement, it clears $19 million in cap space for the Broncos heading into free agency. Much of that newfound money will be used to retain in-house free agents on both offense and defense.
The eldest Manning brother is a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer, holding NFL records in passing yards (71,940) and touchdowns (539). In 18 seasons, he led his team to the postseason 15 times, culminating in two Lombardi Trophies.
His most common opponent, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, took to Facebook to express his admiration: “Congratulations Peyton, on an incredible career. You changed the game forever and made everyone around you better. It’s been an honor.”
While Peyton’s decision appears to be the right one, the “Omaha” calls, never-ending pre-snap audibles and fierce Brady-Manning rivalries will certainly be missed.