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Sources: Peyton Manning intends to return to Broncos next season

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The Denver Post’s Woody Paige reports that three “trustworthy” sources told him that Peyton Manning plans to return to the Denver Broncos and play next season. The only potential stumbling block to the veteran quarterback playing in his 18th NFL season would be the outcome of an annual physical examination as stipulated by his contract. Manning is due $19 million next season.

Paige reports that the results of the physical should be known by the Broncos before March 9, the day before the team must exercise its rights to veterans under contract, which reportedly is what the team requested.

Anonymous sources close to Manning reportedly told Paige that the soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback currently is relaxing with his family but wants to return next season. The outcome of the physical, specifically as it relates to his surgically repaired neck, will be tantamount to the ultimate determination regarding whether or not Manning makes one more attempt at winning a second Super Bowl.

Manning obviously is unsatisfied with both the season, one in which he struggled as it came to a close, throwing only one touchdown to four interceptions in the last three games, not to mention how his season ended, with a playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, a 24-13 disappointment in which Manning only completed 56.5% of his passes while throwing for 211 yards and one touchdown. While it is true that he reportedly was playing through injuries towards the end, there is no doubt that a competitor like Manning would like to leave the game on a relatively high note instead of walking away with a bitter taste in his mouth.

Broncos general manager and executive vice president of football operations John Elway publicly has stated he would like to see Manning come back while new head coach Gary Kubiak, who insiders say runs a “quarterback-friendly” offense, appears to be interested in working with Manning.

“Yes, we have talked. We talked a couple of days ago at length, talked a little bit last night via text and those type of things,” Kubiak said Tuesday, via NFL.com. “Talked about a lot of stuff, but the bottom line: We’ve basically come to the conclusion — I know he’s got some things going on, family things right now, and obviously, I’ve got a lot going on here the next couple days — but we’re gonna get together and sit down.

“The thing I wanna do is I wanna be the best support system I can be for Peyton. But yes, we’ve had some very good conversations, and we’ll have many more.”

Pending the outcome of the physical, the two could begin serious work in earnest on preparing for next season in just over a month.

(photo credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY)