The AFC certainly got a bit more competitive today. In the NFL's version of "The Decision," Peyton Manning has finally come to a decision after a two-week media circus (I know, it feels like far longer to me).
We all know the story by now. The Colts released Manning less than two weeks ago for numerous reasons. He visited and worked out with several teams, namely: the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans, and we later learned he secretly worked out with the San Francisco 49ers.
Throughout that time, it seemed the Broncos were the perennial front-runners to land Manning, and today that feeling has finally come to fruition as this morning Manning called up John Elway and told him he's looking forward to playing for Denver.
Two positive side effects from this: more #ManningFace, less #TebowMania.
It's not quite a done deal yet. The Broncos and Manning still need to reach a contract agreement. He had just signed a 5-year, $90 million contract with the Colts this past August. It's been said that the contract he signed with the Colts will just be the starting point for whichever team lands him. With him turning 36 this year, the first few years of his contract will be the most crucial.
What does this mean for Tim Tebow? Does he stay with the Broncos and learn how to be a proper QB from one of the game's best? Or do the Broncos trade him away, discarding him like common trash? Who knows?
The biggest loser in all of this? The 49ers. Alex Smith finally showed he could be an NFL QB this past year, and now he's a Free Agent. By making a play for Manning, the 49ers may have just lost their chances at retaining Alex Smith. So instead of having either a Hall-of-Fame caliber QB, or their QB of the last 7 seasons who finally showed he could play, they may end up with neither. Ouch.
Yes, this instantly makes the Broncos better on Offense. Johns Fox and Elway have told Manning that he'd have carte blanch with the Broncos' offense, and he could build whatever system he'd like. But I have to imagine it'll take Manning a while to instill the system he's most comfortable with (although that timeline could be sped up with additions like free agents Jeff Saturday and Dallas Clark). Maybe the Broncos will end up in a situation like the 2008 Jets had with Brett Favre. As a division rival, that's what I'm most hopeful to see. However, Manning is a far better QB than Favre ever was, so I just don't see it happening.
For the Chargers, looking to win their first AFC West title in three years, that task just got a little bit tougher. Hopefully this lights a metaphorical fire under the butts of the Chargers' players, realizing now the AFC West is no longer a cake-walk and that a 9-win season just won't cut it anymore. To those of you thinking the Chargers will walk all over Peyton since the he's been defeated by San Diego 5 of the last 6 meetings, don't get so cocky. This is an entirely new team around him including a defense that held the Chargers to 13 points at home last year, and the Bolts won't have
the Manning Terminator Stephen Cooper seeking him out on every play.