<
>

Denver's indecision over Peyton Manning only helps Chiefs

INDIANAPOLIS -- You be the judge whether this should be taken as good news or bad for the Kansas City Chiefs. Given the way Peyton Manning looked when last season finished, which was injured and old, it may be up for some debate.

In any event, Denver Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said today at the NFL combine that the process of determining whether Manning would return at quarterback next season was ongoing.

"I don't think there's been any assurances or anything," Kubiak said when asked whether Manning would be Denver's QB next season. "It's been about a process that he and [Broncos vice president John Elway] have been working through over the course of the last month.

"No doubt I want him to be. All indications are that from everything that he's said and through his conversations with John that he feels good. He's had this self-assessment or however you want to label that and he feels good about moving forward. So we'll just continue with this process."

So Kubiak left that door cracked that someone else will quarterback the Broncos next season.

If Manning wants to play, it makes no sense the Broncos would turn him away for money purposes. Manning, even as he looked late last season, is better than any alternative the Broncos could reasonably come up with.

Even assuming he plays, I still think the AFC West championship can be a reasonable goal for the Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers for the first time since Manning joined the Broncos in 2012 -- if the Chiefs and Chargers make the right moves in the coming weeks. Kubiak and his coaching staff are just getting started in Denver and, Manning or not, those transitions are rarely seamless.

So anything less than the Manning of old as the quarterback in Denver opens up the division race to competent contenders.