Are the Denver Broncos all-in for 2014? Or are they escalating a win-now, pay-later arms race for a three-year window of Super Bowl opportunity?
"If you do this for a living, you always have pressure to win now," coach John Fox told NFL Media's Michelle Beisner in an interview that aired on Tuesday evening's edition of NFL Total Access. "It will be no different this year than it's been in our tenure here. Obviously, I think a lot of guys would like to get that big ring for Peyton (Manning), and I think that's part of the motivation and purpose of our football team."
Coming off the most extraordinary season of an unparalleled career, Manning insists his body feels as good as it ever has. Although Manning can see retirement on the not-so-distant horizon, he has made it clear that going out on top is "really not" the priority it was for John Elway.
Whereas Manning was obsessed with over-preparing early in his career, he has a reached a peaceful stage where he can take a more human, less robotic approach to the game.
Manning has undeniably lost considerable arm strength as he approaches age 40. He now compensates beautifully by translating opposing defenses before the snap, processing information in the pocket at a high level and consistently lofting accurate passes into tight spaces.
As long as he's still enjoying the NFL work week, the realistic goal is to play out the final three years on his five-year contract with the Broncos.
To that end, Elway has stated that he will continue to shape his roster as if Manning will continue to be the quarterback.
Elway's high-profile offseason maneuvers suggest an adherence to Manning's three-year window.
Revitalized four-time All-Pro pass rusher DeMarcus Ware was signed to a three-year contract. Lockdown cornerback Aqib Talib's six-year deal is essentially a three-year commitment on closer inspection.
Throw in the addition of hard-hitting safety T.J. Ward and the healthy returns of three key starters missing from Super Bowl XLVIII, and the Broncos suddenly have a championship-caliber defense to complement their record-breaking offense.
Elway doesn't believe the NFL will ever witness a quarterback unanimously viewed as the greatest, but Manning has proven that he takes the narrativesand legacies to heart.
How can Manning pass up three more opportunities to reverse the postseason narrative and ascend past Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas and Tom Brady on football's Mount Rushmore?