ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Even as the Denver Broncos are poised to play Sunday with a Super Bowl trip on the line, the team’s executive vice president of football operations John Elway knows he already has two fairly significant meetings on his calendar in the coming weeks.
One with head coach John Fox and one with quarterback Peyton Manning.
Fox would be heading into the final year of his original four-year contract in 2014 and that’s usually not a situation either the coach or the team wants to be in if both sides like where things are heading. The Broncos have gone 34-14 in three regular seasons under Fox (Fox missed four of those games this year) with three AFC West titles.
Fox signed a four-year contract, believed to be worth between $3 million and $3.5 million, in January of 2011. Fox replaced Josh McDaniels, who was fired with four games remaining in the 2010 season.
“We're going to wait until this year is over and then sort of talk about that,’’ Elway said Thursday.
Fox missed four games in a leave of absence this season after open-heart surgery. Since his return Fox, who will turn 59 next month, has consistently said he “feels better than I have in the last 20 years.’’
Elway said he will sit down with Manning following the season. The quarterback is going to decide about 2014 after a physical exam at the end of the season, including a look on his surgically-repaired neck. The pair held a similar meeting a year ago when Manning had a physical that kicked in two additional seasons of guaranteed money after doctors gave the quarterback a favorable report.
Manning finished the season with 5,477 passing yards and 55 touchdowns -- both NFL records -- and the Broncos also set a new single-season record with 606 points.
“We’ll sit down after the season and find out where he is and what his thinking is,’’ Elway said. “But to be where we are right now and talk to him about the future, I don’t think is productive right now.’’
Elway said he believed Manning has publicly referenced the potential end of his career more and more in recent weeks because the 37-year-old quarterback was simply trying to make a point about how players should appreciate, and take advantage of, playoff opportunities when they arrive.
“I still think he’s young and playing well,’’ Elway said. “But that’s going to come down to Peyton, it’s going to come down to what he wants to do. Having been a football player before when you leave this game you want to leave it on your last leg and try not to leave anything on the table. Anybody that’s a competitor, that’s kind of the way you want to leave the game.’’
Asked if he believed Manning still enjoyed the game, Elway said;
“I can’t imagine him not throwing 55 touchdowns,’’ Elway said. “I guarantee you if I was in his shoes I would enjoy it. I’m sure he is still enjoying it and he’s on a good football team which late in your career is so crucial.’
Manning’s contract runs through the 2016 season.