by Zach Seyko
Last Sunday, the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers by a final score of 24-10 in the 50th Super Bowl, which was held in Santa Clara, California at Levi’s Stadium. Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller was awarded Super Bowl MVP, as he recorded two and half sacks and two forced fumbles, one of which led to a defensive touchdown scored by defensive end Malik Jackson.
As some fans may be aware, Peyton Manning might have played his last game in the NFL. The 18-year veteran won his 200th career game by conquering the NFC champion Panthers, making him the career leader in wins by a quarterback. Manning’s resume is quite impressive, even when compared to a long line of other great passers. In addition to his all-time wins record and two championship rings, Manning also holds the all-time touchdown and passing yards record and the record for most touchdowns and passing yards in a single season. Additionally, he is a five time MVP winner, the MVP of Super Bowl XLI, a seven time All-Pro selection and has made 14 Pro Bowl appearances.
Manning’s accolades and career are remembered and respected by fans and players alike. Since the playoffs, Manning was rumored to retire immediately after the Super Bowl, win or loss, but has stated that he is not worried about his retirement currently and will think about the 2016-2017 season. Manning has also been linked to an ownership group that is in line to purchase the Tennessee Titans franchise. Regardless of these speculations, Manning is not expected to remain with the Broncos. He turned in the worst statistical season of his career and could not play for part of the season due to health issues. Because of this, he would cost 21.5 million dollars of Denver’s salary cap next year. While football is a game and there are many players that have earned their dues, it is a business at heart and franchises are more concerned with winning than making players happy. The Broncos would not be smart to bring back Manning. This may ultimately cause him to retire or try out for a new team.
The Broncos are expected to use that free cap space to sign key defensive players like Miller and Jackson who contributed heavily to the Super Bowl victory. The Broncos also have to design a plan to choose the successor of the legendary quarterback. Fourth year quarterback Brock Osweiler filled in for Manning while he was injured, but produced underwhelming performances as the temporary quarterback. He is set to hit the free agent market as well It is difficult to determine his financial worth going forward with limited game experience. Denver will have quite an interesting offseason. General Manager John Elway is expected to focus on the defense in free agency and possibly draft a quarterback.
The Carolina Panthers, on the other hand, turned in a lackluster game to end their season. Fans and analysts could not believe what they were watching after the Panthers outscored the Seattle Seahawks 31-0 in one half of the divisional, and then went on to annihilate the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC Championship. Quarterback Cam Newton was consistently pressured by the Broncos’ front seven, and returned to throwing high, errant passes to his receivers. The 2015 MVP was clearly frustrated with his Super Bowl showing, and he later walked away from the podium in the middle of a press conference causing debate among spectators.
The offseason does not look too complicated for the Carolina Panthers. All of Carolina’s most important players are locked up for the 2016 campaign, except for elite cornerback Josh Norman. Carolina has more than 23 million in cap space and is expected to bring back one of the best defensive backs in the game on a loaded contract. Other players like Luke Keuchly, Kawaan Short, Thomas Davis, Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen are still under contract and will make an impact next season. The Panthers electric offense is predicted to improve as well with the return of wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was lost due to a torn ACL in the middle of their 2015 training camp.
With the 2015-2016 coming to a close, the NFL saw an array of talent emerge throughout the season and was graced with new rivalries and invigorating competition. For example, spectators everywhere saw Aaron Rodgers throw two successful Hail Mary passes, something that is nearly impossible to accomplish. Viewers got to peek into the future with former Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who took the league by storm after returning from an ACL tear and went on to be crowned as Offensive Rookie of the Year. Teams like the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and Washington Redskins showed that they could challenge and play up to teams within their conferences. The 2016-2017 season will be one of a kind like its predecessors, but hopefully it will fill the appetites of action and competitive nature that football fans crave each year.
Categories: Volume 97 Issue 6 Sports