Peyton Manning's future remains the fulcrum of the Broncos' offseason, an announcement clearing the way for a flurry of moves. Manning is not expected to decide on whether to retire until closer to the first of March.
He has been on vacation, following a typical offseason blueprint. Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy advised Manning to remove the emotion, to clear his head before making any announcement. He is following the advice, and Broncos general manager John Elway said he's comfortable with Manning "taking his time."
A deadline exists because Manning's $19-million 2016 contract guarantees on March 9. If Manning decides in early March, it creates a window for the Broncos to aggressively pursue a deal with quarterback Brock Osweiler before March 7 when free agency explodes with unofficial agreements. The Broncos aren't planning to negotiate with Osweiler until Manning's intentions are known.
The best-case scenario is a seamless Manning exit, since last season's performance makes it unlikely he would return to Denver. And the Broncos aren't paying two starting quarterbacks.
When Manning makes his move, the hard work begins, littered with questions. Can the Broncos agree on a deal with Osweiler without rancor? It is a complicated equation. Osweiler has earned the right to test the open market, and I am sure his representatives would prefer Kirk Cousins signs to establish another loose comparable. It's likely Osweiler will require a three-year deal, if not four.