The first three weeks of the regular season have been shrouded in question marks and what ifs for the Denver Broncos.
Denver fans were "all in" with the acquisition of Manning this offseason. They were ready for the future Hall of Fame quarterback to finally take the Broncos to the next level after the franchise has struggled since Elway's retirement.
Manning's five-year deal worth $96 million, with an $18 million paycheck for this season and another guaranteed $40 million over the next two seasons, is a pretty hefty one. For most Broncos fans, that is chump change if Manning can deliver and take this team to the playoffs with the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.
So the question remains: Based on the season so far, is Manning worth the enormous sum of money he is raking in for the Broncos?
I say yes, and here are the reasons why:
The Mile High City Believes Again
Even though Tim Tebow's magic comebacks last season created a palpable excitement amongst Bronco fans, the circus and uncertainty that came with Tebowmania wasn't great for morale about the future for Denver.
Opposing defenses were bound to figure out those trick plays soon enough, and Tim Tebow would have had a difficult time making the throws necessary to win games.
With that hope comes more revenue for the city of Denver. Manning's presence has provided a boost in ticket, jersey and memorabilia sales around the Mile High City. Increased enthusiasm surrounding Broncos games means more money for bars and restaurants around town as well.
Peyton Manning the Teacher
Athletes with a football mind like Peyton Manning's do not come around very often. What he will teach the Broncos players on both sides of the ball is invaluable to the franchise and certainly worth his beefy contract.
Seasoned veterans and rookies will benefit from practicing and playing both alongside and against the signal-caller. The way in which he approaches defensive reads will help the Broncos better prepare for opposing quarterbacks.
Denver's receiving corps will get to learn from one of the best as well. Running routes for Peyton Manning consistently will help elevate their level of play on the field.
The Future of the Franchise
Having Peyton Manning behind center gives the Broncos a certain clout. With a talent like his in town, free agents are more likely to want to sign with the Broncos to make a playoff run with the future Hall of Famer.
This offseason, Denver acquired some high-quality free agents after Manning committed to the squad. Guys like Tracy Porter, Joel Dreesen and Jacob Tamme will be very beneficial to the Broncos moving forward this season.
An elite standard on how to be a professional in the NFL will be established with Manning around. His work ethic and the way he conducts himself on and off the field will only be a positive for the Broncos, leaving a legacy of professionalism long after his contract is paid out.
There have been early concerns about Manning's arm strength as well as rumblings about his accuracy. This weekend's game against the Raiders is not only a big division rivalry matchup; it is a game in which Manning must play well to silence the critics.
While Manning did play well last week against the Texans, it was overshadowed by the defensive flaws and horrible calls by the replacement refs.
While it is still yet to be determined how this season will play out for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, his mere presence on the football field and in the locker room is well worth that hefty price tag.