Peyton Manning's status was in doubt early in the offseason while he decided if he wanted to return for another season. Eventually, he and the Denver Broncos worked out a new contract and he announced he would play in 2015. Apparently, that was only part of the story as Benjamin Albright reports the Broncos attempted to trade Manning to the Houston Texans.
Citing multiple sources, Albright said the Broncos worked on a potential deal and that "certain elements of Broncos organization wanted [Brock] Osweiler era to begin this season." How close a deal came -- or Houston's interest in acquiring the future Hall of Fame quarterback -- remain unclear. Albright reports the trade talks occurred before Manning and the Broncos worked out a revised contract.. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted, that new deal included a no-trade clause.
Patrick Symth, Broncos vice president of public relations, called Albright's report inaccurate and said the "speculation is false."
Whether the report is accurate or not, a potential Manning deal would have been the biggest story of the NFL offseason and would have potentially shifted the balance of power in the AFC. Let's take a closer look at why it would and wouldn't have made sense for both Houston and Denver.
Why it makes sense:
It's easy to forget, but Manning wasn't exactly playing like the standard Peyton Manning at the end of last season. He struggled some down the stretch, including a poor performance in a playoff loss against the Indianapolis Colts. Manning has put up prolific numbers during his career, but his production dropped off last season. Manning is also 39 years old and the Broncos have a new coaching staff. Denver's status as the cream of the AFC diminished last season and it will need to rebuild at some point. With a new staff, maybe the time to start the process was this year. See what you have in Osweiler before his rookie deal ends, then plan your quarterback future from there.
Despite Manning not being great last year, he still would have been a major upgrade in Houston. The Super Bowl contender. A 39-year-old declining Manning is still a lot better than Brian Hoyer.have a supremely talented defense and are just an average quarterback away from being a contender. Manning would have made Houston one of the favorites to win the AFC and be a legitimate
Why it doesn't make sense:
The Broncos still have plenty of talent and can easily push back the rebuild a season or two. Manning may have struggled at times last season, but you don't kick him out the door for Brock freaking Osweiler. Denver is still the favorite in the AFC West with Manning and certainly capable of making another run. There is also a major difference between floating a name in trade rumors and actually going through with the deal. The Broncos weren't in great salary cap position this offseason and needed Manning to take a pay cut for relief. Shopping him in trade talks could have just been a way to gain leverage in contract negotiations.
For the Texans, it all comes down to price. Trying to trade Manning and asking a reasonable price for a declining, aging quarterback could be different things. if the asking price was high draft picks or young players, Houston may be better off gambling on Hoyer and the defense rather than surrendering a premium asset and taking on a hefty contract. There is also the question of whether Manning would have gone to Houston in a potential deal.