Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Paige: Peyton Manning wants to return in 2015

Paige: You can expect Peyton Manning to return to Broncos

According to three trustworthy sources, Manning wants to return to the Broncos, but won’t and can’t make a final decision until he takes an annual physical examination mandated by his contract. Last year, the test results were learned at the beginning of March. The Broncos have requested that Manning let them know his plans by March 9 — the day before teams must exercise their rights on veteran players under contract.

Per Woody, Manning has many reasons to come back, including the desire for another SB ring, legacy, all-time passing records, and money.

Jim Nantz probably thinks Phil Simms invented water

Jim Nantz, Phil Simms discussion adds context to deflated football talk

Nantz: We talked to [Aaron] Rodgers about ‘How do you like your footballs?’ Because, you know, you can rub them up before the game. [Phil], you really kind of created that for everybody else in the league.

This, of course, is the genius who thinks Simms belongs in Canton, on the basis of one half of one football game. Give it a rest, Nantz.

Legwold: Expect big changes on Broncos’ offensive line

Lessons learned: Offensive line makeover is coming

The key phrase there is “change of scenery,” as in someplace else. The Broncos have two starters who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents—guard Orlando Franklin and Montgomery.

New head coach Gary Kubiak’s arrival, with his playbook in hand, also means more zone blocking and a little more emphasis on movement skills up front. The starting point for rebuilding the unit is likely Louis Vasquez and Ryan Clady—both have been Pro Bowl selections in the past two seasons.

How would you suppose Peyton Manning feels about playing behind a new offensive line, where the incumbents need to learn a new blocking system?

Going for the John Fox Special isn’t as safe an idea as one might think

Mike McCarthy and Kicking from One Yard Away

Teams that went for it and converted, to take a touchdown lead, ultimately went 19-5 in those games.

Teams that went for it and failed, to remain tied and leave the opponent usually backed up inside the 1 yard line, went 15-5.

Teams that kicked the field goal (all of them made), to take a three point lead and then kickoff, went 13-14.

Here's hoping we're not referring to it as the Gary Kubiak Special next year...

Mike Ditka actually said something worth paying attention to

Seattle Suddenly Super

When Gumbel asks Ditka, in effect, if this could end up being the ruination of the sport, Ditka says: “Let me ask you a question better than that. If you had an eight-year-old kid now, would you tell him you want him to play football?”

“I wouldn’t,” said Gumbel. “Would you?”

“No,” Ditka said. “That’s sad. I wouldn’t. And my whole life was football. I think the risk is worse than the reward. I really do.”

From Ditka, of all people, this is absolutely stunning.

Gary Kubiak gave Ravens offense rare hope

No one should blame Gary Kubiak for leaving Ravens

Kubiak should be applauded for what he accomplished in his brief stint as the team’s play-caller. For one of the few times in the Ravens’ 19-year existence, there is excitement surrounding the Ravens’ offense. Kubiak got quarterback Joe Flacco and the running game back on track. The Ravens finished with their highest offensive ranking (No. 12) in 17 years. He gave the Ravens their blueprint in how to get the offense clicking.

Per Brian Burke's data, the overall efficiency of Baltimore's offense leapt from 30th in 2013 to 10th in 2014.

OTC: Expect Broncos to get four compensatory picks in 2015 Draft

Projecting the Compensatory Draft Picks for 2015

The only serious question mark that I see right now focuses on TJ Ward, going from Cleveland to Denver for an APY of $5.625 million. Since I have projected the cutoff between the fourth and fifth round to be about $5.57 million, I project that TJ Ward will count as a 4th rounder against Denver. However, should the salary cap be greater than about $142 million, that would subsequently raise that cutoff, and possibly reduce Ward to a 5th rounder.

Nick Korte (a fellow Broncos fan) projects Denver to get one fourth-round comp pick (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), two sixth-rounders (Knowshon Moreno, Shaun Phillips), and one seventh-rounder (Robert Ayers).

Kubiak’s departure brought Jake Plummer to tears

John Elway pairing with former teammate Gary Kubiak no surprise

Jake Plummer, the ultimate of NFL free spirits—the smart, accomplished, go-against-the-grain, challenge-authority guy—said last week he wept when Kubiak left the Broncos in 2005 to be the head coach of the Houston Texans.

“No doubt, tears in my eyes, man,” Plummer said. “Kubes is tough when you need tough. He’ll explain where he’s at, talk you through it, but he’s so smart. A guy like that you wake up every day seeing he wants the best for you and that maybe you disagreed at first, but you see he’s right and you’re not. He pushes you, I mean, hard, man, but doesn’t bully you, and you see for yourself he’s right. A guy like that you want to play for until you can’t play anymore.”

First, Joel Dreessen says he'd take a bullet for Gary Kubiak. Now this. What's next for Kubiak? Bill Romanowski writing a love poem?  

Rapoport: Peyton Manning undecided on a 2015 return

Peyton Manning still uncertain about Broncos future

While some, including Mike Klis of The Denver Post, feel like Manning’s return is a foregone conclusion, Rapoport notes that Denver’s recent activity could be a series of chess moves to clear the deck.

It will probably be very annoying, if not to Favre-like levels, but wee're going to hear reports like these until Peyton announces his decision.

Renck: John Fox didn’t hold players’ feet to the fire

Ugly loss to Patriots showed where Broncos were headed

Multiple players said they enjoyed playing for Fox, but they conceded that he never made them feel uncomfortable. That was in stark contrast to Elway’s raw assessment of the team. He criticized the team’s “lack of fire,” and lamented that the Broncos didn’t “go out kicking and screaming.”

A few months back, 83% of you thought the Broncos weren't playing with enough discipline. Obviously, John Elway felt similarly.