The NFL Scouting Combine is an event and its proximity to the free agency frenzy in 16 days creates an even bigger buzz. John Elway is obviously a busy man year-round but since retiring from play and entering the front office, the draft is the beginning of his season and the stakes are enormously high.

Thursday, Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager Elway touched on everything from Peyton Manning’s impeding decision, to who may be their third wide receiver come September. As the week and month continues the pressure will only build.

It remains clear that Manning’s future is the focal point of any discussion of the Broncos and as such, Elway answered several questions or “the” question, reworded several times, as to the future of No. 18.

““We’re hopeful that Peyton comes back and we want him back. As I said after the season, we wanted him back–and we still want him back. He has not given me a definitive answer exactly what he wants to do but we’re hopeful he is going to come back.” Elway said and he commented on the rumors about Manning’s contract delaying any formal announcement. “The bottom line is I don’t like to get into anybody’s contract or discuss anything about contracts, but just know that, as I said, I believe he will be back and I believe that he will be our quarterback next year.”

Elway also put to rest any doubts that the former quarterback believes that Manning would not fit the system the Broncos will likely be changing to next season.

“I do believe having been through that part of my career and having played for Mike Shanahan at the time and played with his offense, that I do believe it’s a very helpful offense. Peyton could fit in this offense very easily.” Elway continued to comment on the effectiveness a veteran, oh say a 39 year-old quarterback could play within a Gary Kubiak offense, “I think for an older quarterback it’s a perfect system to be in. It’s really a great system for any quarterback but I think it’s even more helpful the older you get.”

Elway revealed that Manning underwent a physical in New Orleans and “he felt good with the results”. Elway also reiterated that he emphasized that Manning take his time with the decision to return in 2015. Even when asked about the March 9th date when Manning’s contract becomes guaranteed Elway made it clear. “He’s got all the time he wants.”

In regards to the rest of the team and his thoughts moving forward Elway gave familiar answers to familiar questions in regards to the draft and free agency.

“I think that the bottom line is, I think our philosophy is to build in the draft and then add with free agency.”

Last year’s big moves, especially on the defensive side of the ball, have people wondering if the Broncos will be buyers once again for big name talent. Elway did not seem concerned with prior accomplishments or accolades when pursuing free agents, rather the fit within the team.

“We’re always, no matter what it is, we’re always going to try to get better as a football team and stay within what the budget tells us to stay in, but try to find the right guys for the Denver Broncos.”

Obviously the amount of free agents on the Broncos’ current roster that remain will dictate how they approach outside available talent. Multiple sources are reporting that the Broncos will be meeting with representatives of Demaryius Thomas, Orlando Franklin and Terrence Knighton soon while Julius Thomas seems fully prepared to test the free agent market come March 7th.

When asked about Montee Ball and Cody Latimer, both acquired through the draft, Elway was adamant that he expects both players to fit into the offense in a bigger role next year. He also expanded on his thoughts on C.J. Anderson’s performance last year and his future with the team.

“He came in and had a tremendous year for us. He’s a one-cut guy and he’s a north and south runner. That’s what style of an offense this is. I think C.J. will be a perfect fit for it so I’m thrilled we still have him.”

Elway has his hands full and will be evaluating the future players of the NFL while also juggling a massive amount of talent on his roster nearing the free agency date. Within a month there will be a huge shift in personnel and the remainder of the offseason will include building a relationship between a new roster and a new coaching staff. This week is the beginning of that hectic process. Let the front office games begin.

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