Peyton Manning‘s cast is off and he’s now in a walking boot. A definitive timeline for his return has not been identified and the Denver Broncos are moving ahead, at least on a week-to-week basis, with Brock Osweiler as their quarterback. And that’s rapidly creating problems for John Elway.

With every win in relief of Manning, Osweiler turns more fans to the “Plan B” camp, even if the young quarterback isn’t outwardly trying to do so. Osweiler’s long said this is Manning’s team, he’s just the steward until Manning is healthy.

With every solid drive, Osweiler is improving his free-agency stock, which is sure to garner him a healthy contract in 2016 and beyond. With only two NFL starts under his belt, Osweiler is quickly moving into Nick Foles territory.

There’s no envy for Elway, who has two very difficult and delicate situations on his hands.

At the core of how he will handle these two scenarios – returning (or not returning) Peyton Manning to the starting lineup when healthy, and Osweiler’s long-term contract status – is a fundamental question about what, or rather, who, Elway sees as dictating the future of the franchise. But that question doesn’t come down to Peyton Manning vs. Brock Osweiler.

Whether the Broncos will say it or not, it seems extremely unlikely that Manning will return for the 2016 season. Health reasons alone, not to mention declining productivity, would make the $21.5 million investment in what will be a 40-year-old quarterback unwise. With only a $2.5 million dead cap hit coming in 2016, Manning would likely have to return completely healthy this year and lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl win via multiple five-touchdown performances to earn a guaranteed starting job in 2016.

The real question about who Elway has hitched his wagon to comes down to two individuals: Gary Kubiak and Brock Osweiler.

Benny Bash, co-host of The Big Show on Mile High Sports AM 1340, posed this very question to his partners, Kent Erickson and Benjamin Allbright on Wednesday.

Allbright, a former NFL scout, says there is no doubt that Elway’s hitched his wagon to Osweiler, whom he selected in 2012 (the same year he signed Manning) in the second round after starting just 15 games at Arizona State. At Manning’s introductory press conference, Elway famously quipped “There is no ‘Plan B,'” although it now seems clear that “Plan Brock” was in the works. Now, that plan is being set into motion.

Erickson, who worked for the organization for more than two decades, thinks Elway is less set on Osweiler, specifically, and more sold on Kubiak’s system. It was that system, after all, that led Denver to its only two Super Bowl titles, both with Elway at the helm. Erickson says that Elway will be the first one to part ways with Osweiler if he isn’t up to the standard needed to run Kubiak’s system.

Is Elway determined to build around Brock? Or will Gary Kubiaks system open the door for other free agent quarterbacks that will be available next year? John Elway has tough decisions to make over the next several months, not the least of which have to do with Peyton Manning.

Listen to the full debate about Osweiler and Kubiak in the podcast below…

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