Peyton Manning’s Retirement Plan

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Peyton Manning isn't just football's most endorsed player. To millions of fans, he is football. Approximately 200 million Americans watched the sport this season, and much to the horror of Dallas Cowboys fans, recent polls suggest the Denver Broncos are now the country's favorite team.

Still, if you haven't seen the memes, Manning is getting up there in age. He'll turn 38 next month, making him the NFL's oldest starting quarterback for yet another season, assuming he returns next year. According to ESPN, Manning will be back in Mile High as long as his neck passes an offseason exam, but if I were a betting man, I'd put a lot of money on him hanging up his cleats by 40. 

With Manning's retirement at most a few years away, it's worth asking: What will he do after, and how much can he make?

Manning with Indianapolis Colts in 2010 (left) and Denver Broncos in 2012 (right). Both images via Jeffrey Beall, Flickr.

Since being drafted in 1998, Manning has accumulated a little over $190 million in salary earnings, and conservatively, he's made at least another $100 million from endorsements. 

Forbes estimates he earned $12 million from sponsors like DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV  ) , Papa John's (NASDAQ: PZZA  ) , and Gatorade last year, in addition to nearly $18 million to be the Broncos' quarterback. While he can't replace this level of income post-NFL, a few avenues can get him closer than you might think.

Peyton the broadcaster
For some, TV is an obvious option. Sports Illustrated has called Manning a "can't-miss broadcasting prospect," a sentiment echoed by ESPN's talent guru Seth Markman. Last September, he told SI that "all the networks would be tripping over each other if Peyton Manning wanted to do this," adding:

He's smart, with a great personality. You see his commercials and SNL appearances. The only question I'd have, much like anyone else, is whether he'd be comfortable criticizing other players and coaches. My instincts tell me he would be OK.

The major networks' top NFL analysts -- Cris Collinsworth, Phil Simms, Troy Aikman, and Jon Gruden -- make an average of about $1.5 million per year, and the highest paid personalities like Jim Nantz and Joe Buck earn around $5 million.

At the very best, Manning could recapture about 25% of his annual salary this way, and the exposure may keep some sponsors like Papa John's and Gatorade on board. His father, Archie, did tell Indianapolis reporters a few years ago that he was "not sure [his son's] heart is into" broadcasting, but it's tough to deny the potential.

Peyton the coach
If not, Manning could also naturally become a coach. Many have speculated on his abilities as an offensive coordinator or a QB coach, though it's not insane to think a college head coaching gig is a possibility. This is the same guy who's amazed former Tennessee video operators with a near photographic memory of his old playbook, and D-1 could pay well.

The 10 highest paid college coaches made an average of $4.2 million in 2013, though their average age was 55. This group's youngest member is Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy at 45, so even on the low side, it's reasonable to think Manning would need a few years at a smaller position before becoming the head honcho anywhere. According to USA Today, a typical college assistant coach makes $200,000.

In the NFL, these figures are about 65% to 75% higher, though there are significantly fewer vacancies. 

Like the first scenario, this one has its critics too, most notably Tony Dungy. The former coach told the Dan Patrick Show a little over a year ago that the QB "doesn't realize, everybody's not Peyton Manning," adding that lesser focused players "would frustrate him to death."

Another alternative? Look no further than the man who brought him to Denver: John Elway.

Peyton the front office exec
As the Broncos' executive VP of football operations, it took Elway 12 years to move into the front office of his former team. It's possible Manning could become an executive much sooner than that.

Only two general managers have experience playing in the NFL, but a handful of retirees hold lower level leadership roles. Positions like assistant general manager and director of player personnel are obvious possibilities, and the money is decent. Bleacher Report estimates a GM's average salary of at least $1 million, and teams typically pay VPs between $180,000 and $400,000, with scouting directors making about $100,000 to $275,000.

Manning would likely make less as a front office exec than on TV or the sideline, but the role would allow him to live a football-centric lifestyle that's more under the radar than most other avenues.

Additional options
Of course, all of this assumes Manning won't retire to a tropical island in the South Pacific somewhere, an option that's justifiable given his enormous net worth.

His dad also owns a restaurant in New Orleans, and his Peyton Manning Children's Hospital in Indianapolis could always use more fundraising.

The future
Even if he throws for 100 touchdown passes next season, Denver's star quarterback will retire eventually, and unlike his essentially guaranteed spot in the Hall of Fameit's not a lock he'll work in football after retirement. 

If he does, though, Manning can make about 25% of his annual NFL salary as a TV broadcaster, 20% as a top-tier head coach, 1% as an assistant, and a bit more in an NFL front office. 

None of these amounts will come close to the millions he made last year, but we shouldn't worry too much about him. Considering Manning's intelligence, he's probably made plenty of smart investments over the years and has plenty of money in the bank.

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Read/Post Comments (17) | Recommend This Article (16)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 12:41 PM, jkstaab wrote:

    Why would Payton need a retirement plan??? This guy has been frugal and smart with his money!!! Unlike other sport stars!!

    He has set himself up and his great, great grandchildren up for life, as long as they learn from Payton!!

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 12:44 PM, buffballs2 wrote:

    Get out and retire.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 12:46 PM, bobindrums wrote:

    Maybe it isn't possible for Peyton to make the millions he is making now but who needs more money to retire after making that kind of money. Me, my brother and sisters, sons and daughters, grandkids and a few distant relatives could live nicely for the rest of our lives on his salary alone.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 12:47 PM, buffballs2 wrote:

    Don't make a fool of yourself.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 12:48 PM, Della wrote:

    Just one small correction for this article: It is NOT part of a broadcasters' job to go around criticizing professional players and coaches; BUT INSTEAD simply make an impartial analysis of the sport in which they are expert in. I know that many times broadcasters do criticize but when they do that they are going beyond of what they are supposed to do. So, for the author, take note of this message and be cognizant of that in your next article.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 12:48 PM, buffballs2 wrote:

    Don't become a joke.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 12:49 PM, rayrock1 wrote:

    He owns about 20 Papa John’s franchises, he can concentrate on running those and possibly buy more and grow his franchising business.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 1:02 PM, trackbiker wrote:

    Why in the world is everyone focused on how much money he can make. Get real. He is a good person and leaders think about people. The comments here are so shallow. There is more to life than franchises and endorsements. Give me a break!!

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 1:06 PM, Jmmot555 wrote:

    Peyton is a great quarterback. I think the least of his worries is having a comfortable retirement. He should retire but no player wants to retire after a crushing Super Bowl defeat.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 1:36 PM, Dalton wrote:

    I seriously doubt that Denver is the country's favorite team. Instead I believe Manning is the most favored player in the NFL and because he plays for the Broncos that team currently lights up the survey numbers. When he retires Denver will be a distant memory for most non Colorado residents.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 2:20 PM, bigbrew67 wrote:

    Maybe he can concentrate on getting better ingredients to make a better pizza for his franchises or trade those franchises in for something better.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 5:11 PM, billbo wrote:

    He can always invest in medical supplies, I have a feeling his neck injuries come from the countless times that he has CHOKED in the big games. LOL.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 6:54 PM, birdiesboy wrote:

    During Peyton's college years he, he, both his brothers and their father, Archie, put on clinics for high school boys and were considered to be the best at that. Both the boys are excellent teachers and as such , would be great coaches. The money is unimportant to these guys.

  • Report this Comment On February 08, 2014, at 7:11 PM, CrazyDocAl wrote:

    How much money does one really need for retirement? $10 million in cash would last him for life as long as he's not stupid. Figure a 3% ROI year to year would mean one could retire with $300k a year for life without actually touching the initial $10 million. How many people need more than $300k a year?

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2014, at 10:51 AM, psdcb2284 wrote:

    Hello All,

    I only have one thing to add to all these great wonderful comments when can I met Payton and get married, lol just kidding but you earned it all Payton and I'm glad you are where u are keep going Payton not a Denver fan a Payton Manning fan however just to let u know I am a die hard Dallas fan go cowboys.

  • Report this Comment On February 09, 2014, at 2:22 PM, jimroad471 wrote:

    he outta quit while he's ahead...he cant really afford another playoff loss and risks to his neck surgeries. He can make a fortune in coaching and all his other business investments. Manning , IMO, is one of the best QB's in history even though he had big game meltdowns

  • Report this Comment On January 15, 2015, at 11:39 AM, rconlin wrote:

    Peyton needs to retire while he still is semi-healthy before Justin Houston breaks him in half next year.

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Jake Mann

Jake Mann covers sports, economics and politics for the Motley Fool.

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