03/23/12 — Stevens: Time will tell of Manning's decision

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Stevens: Time will tell of Manning's decision

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on March 23, 2012 1:48 PM

For 14 seasons, Peyton Manning has made a career of being one of the best decision makers to ever play quarterback in the NFL.

Aside from his strong arm, precision passing ability and 6-foot-5 frame, Manning's greatest characteristic is his ability to read defenses and make split-second decisions.

Only time will tell if Manning's latest decision turns out to be a wise one.

Manning agreed to a five-year, $96 million contract with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday. He passed on opportunities to sign with San Francisco, Tennessee and other teams.

Perhaps Manning, who has always done things with class and professionalism, was leery of moving to the NFC. How would he entertain the possibility of having to navigate through younger brother Eli and the New York Giants en route to a Super Bowl?

Denver went 9-9 a year ago and reached the second round of the playoffs before losing at New England. The Broncos were largely one-dimensional offensively with Tim Tebow at quarterback, and they led the league in rushing.

The Broncos do possess a pair of young, talented wide receivers in Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, but also have a defense in desperate need of an overhaul. The Broncos were 20th in the league in total defense and allowed nearly 25 points a game. Acquiring a cornerback to play opposite Champ Bailey and upgrading its group of linebackers must be priorities in free agency for Denver. The Broncos play nine games next season against teams that reached the playoffs a year ago.

Manning has thrown for over 54,800 yards in his career and is one touchdown pass away from 400. All of those numbers and his four MVP awards were accumulated while Manning was healthy and playing with a high-powered Indianapolis offense.

One of the great quarterbacks in the history of the game, Manning has directed 35 fourth-quarter comebacks and 46 game-winning drives. But quarterbacks and their legacies are ultimately measured by Super Bowl rings.

Manning turns 36 on Saturday and is running out of time to add to his own legacy. With the clock ticking on his career, this may prove to be his greatest comeback -- or potentially -- his biggest failure.