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NFL, Papa Johns parting ways could hit Peyton Manning in the wallet

NFL, Papa Johns parting ways could hit Peyton Manning in the wallet

“The NFL and Papa John’s have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, and key personalities in the sport, presence in broadcast and digital media,” the two sides said in a joint statement released Tuesday.

Losing its deal with the NFL has already hurt the pizza chain’s stock. “Shares were down 7 percent in after-hours trading,” Rovell reported Tuesday.

Former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning could also be impacted by the news. In 2012, Manning purchased 21 Papa John’s franchises in Colorado on the same day the NFL announced an extension to keep the chain as the league’s official pizza sponsor, according to the Denver Post’s Nicki Jhabvala.

The timing of Manning’s decision probably wasn’t a coincidence. Having a deal with the NFL likely increased Papa John’s value, so everyone involved with the company across the board could feel the effects of Tuesday’s news, including Manning.

Manning, retired from the NFL after winning Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos in 2016. He is currently being courted and Fox but may prefer to wait for an ideal NFL front office job to become available instead of jumping into broadcasting. Manning is also, of course, 41, still filming commercials for multiple companies.

The Jets can make Cousins the highest-paid player in the league without significantly hurting their ability to build a strong supporting cast around him. They have approximately $73 million in salary-cap room, they have the flexibility to address their biggest needs on offense -- center, and that amount will exceed $90 million once they're finished with veteran cuts. In other words, tight end and wide receiver. They can welcome Cousins to New Jersey with a nice housewarming gift in the form of Allen Robinson or another playmaker.

You'll notice the first-year cash payout is $52 million -- $1 million more than Lions QB Matthew Stafford received on his record-setting deal last year. The Jets are in a unique position; they can afford to front-load the contract with a huge roster bonus, absorbing a massive cap hit ($36 million) in Year 1. That will result in lower cap hits in subsequent years.

Looking into the future, they will have the same flexibility in 2019, there are holes in the lineup,[url=http://www.broncosfootballauthentic.com/brandon-marshall-jersey-authentic]Authentic Brandon Marshall Jersey[/url], but it's a young team on the rise. Only one current starter is over 30 -- nose tackle Steve McLendon. They unloaded most of the deadwood last year, as no key players will be eligible for free agency. They can continue to build the foundation without having to worry about dumping contracts to stay under the cap. Yes, cleaning up the cap in the process.

If scheme familiarity is important, who played under Shanahan in 2012-13 with the Redskins. Knowing the playbook will make the transition to a new city and a new team that much easier. Bates is from the Shanahan coaching tree,[url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/cameron-heyward-jersey-authentic]Authentic Cameron Heyward Jersey[/url], the same tree that produced 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and the Rams' Sean McVay. Bates sees the game the same way as them, this is the place. New offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates will install Mike Shanahan's version of the West Coast offense. It should be old hat for Cousins, and that will create a comfort level that can't be duplicated anywhere else.

Lastly,[url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/cameron-heyward-jersey-authentic]Womens Cameron Heyward Jersey[/url], there's legacy. The fan base, is waiting to throw its arms around a savior. A total of 30 quarterbacks have started for the Jets in the post-Joe Namath era, only four of whom have produced a winning record, hungry for a Super Bowl after a 49-year drought,[url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/joe-haden-jersey-authentic]Authentic Joe Haden Jersey[/url], let alone a championship. Cousins can change that and be remembered forever. 

If the Broncos want to sign Cousins, they will have to make him the NFL's highest-paid player and give him one of the biggest contracts in league history. Why? Just look at San Francisco's Jimmy Garoppolo and his $137.5 million deal with seven NFL starts on his résumé.

Cousins' camp will almost certainly put the asking price at something close to a $30 million per year average and Stafford's $60.5 million fully guaranteed at signing -- still the highest total of any deal. That's where the Broncos will have to be to get it done, with far more cap room, especially if the Jets or Browns, are willing to go big. The Broncos already have a nine-digit contract on the books in linebacker Von Miller's $114.5 million deal. He is set to enter Year 3 of the six-year contract.

Why should Cousins choose Denver? The Broncos will sell Peyton Manning's tenure, as they are the only team in the running for Cousins that once signed a high-profile quarterback in free agency and kept their promise to build a roster around him. The result was two Super Bowl trips in four years for Manning, and another free-agency binge in 2014 that reeled in receiver Emmanuel Sanders, DeMarcus Ware, one Super Bowl win, safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib. If Broncos GM and executive VP of football operations John Elway tells Cousins the Broncos will do what's necessary to build around the quarterback -- and they already have a top-five defense -- the proof is in the trophy case.

If Denver is going to keep the roster deep and talented, it will have to cap Cousins' offer in that $30 million per year range and try to lure Cousins with more guarantees. Stafford's deal has $92 million in potential total guarantees, and the Broncos guaranteed almost every dollar in Manning's four-year contract in 2012 to snag the future Hall of Famer.

Denver did the same with Miller in negotiations, sticking to the $114.5 million total and closing the deal by increasing the guarantees.

The Broncos will have to create some room to sign Cousins; they have approximately $26 million in cap space. Veteran players such as Talib ($11 million cap space created if released) and running back C.J. Anderson would be at the front of the line.

The Vikings have their chance to (finally) sign a long-term option at quarterback. Minnesota has the eighth-most cap space of all teams with an estimated $57 million, which means it could allocate upward of $30 million in 2018 for a quarterback.

If the Vikings choose not to re-sign any of their upcoming free-agent quarterbacks (Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford), who has performed at a consistent level the past three years, doesn't have a history of injuries, Cousins could be the primary target. The sweet spot for the team is around $28 million per year for Cousins, and has the potential to be a franchise quarterback and put Minnesota over the top.

Minnesota likely cannot offer as much as teams with more cap room. The Vikings have several young and talented players -- receiver Stefon Diggs, linebacker Eric Kendricks, linebacker Anthony Barr, cornerback Trae Waynes and defensive end Danielle Hunter -- due for extensions in 2019 and will be tight against the cap even if they don't sign a quarterback to a huge deal.

But the Vikings' offer is strong for a few reasons. Take a look at all the weapons Cousins would have on offense, the Vikings will add even more playmaking. Another bonus? If playing closer to home/family is on his wish list, the Michigan native/Michigan State grad will always be guaranteed a yearly trip to play in Detroit. Although Cousins has no history with new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, in addition to being backed by the league's top defense. And with the return of a healthy Dalvin Cook, the former Eagles assistant is seen as a bright offensive mind.

Cousins made it known during Super Bowl week that he wants to go to a team that can help him achieve success quickly. Minnesota made it to the NFC Championship Game last season and is poised to return stronger in 2018. What solidifies how far the Vikings will be able to go is whom they have under center. 

The Jaguars can offer Cousins the money he wants as well as the opportunity to win a Super Bowl. The latter is obvious based on the team's run to the AFC Championship Game last season. The defense was one of the NFL's best -- ranking first against the pass and second in sacks,[url=http://www.broncosfootballauthentic.com/darian-stewart-jersey-authentic]Womens Darian Stewart Jersey[/url], turnovers and scoring -- and every starter returns in 2018.

The Jaguars led the NFL in rushing,[url=http://www.broncosfootballauthentic.com/virgil-green-jersey-authentic]Authentic Virgil Green Jersey[/url], and with some additional work on the offensive line in the draft and a year of experience for running back Leonard Fournette, so the Jaguars will boost their talent there, too. That means everything is in place for a deep playoff run with the right quarterback. Teams went all-out to stop the run last season because they did not respect Blake Bortles. That won't happen with Cousins,[url=http://www.broncosfootballauthentic.com/brandon-marshall-jersey-authentic]Womens Brandon Marshall Jersey[/url], their running game should again be the focal point of the offense. Re-signing (or using the franchise tag on) wide receiver Allen Robinson is a priority to give the offense the downfield threat it lacked last season because of his injury. It's a good draft class at tight end, and the Jaguars' offense would no longer play second fiddle to the defense.

As for the money, too. That would leave the Jaguars with approximately $36.4 million in available cap space -- more than enough to afford Cousins -- and that's not even adding in any other veteran cuts,[url=http://www.broncosfootballauthentic.com/virgil-green-jersey-authentic]Womens Virgil Green Jersey[/url],[url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/ryan-shazier-jersey-authentic]Womens Ryan Shazier Jersey[/url], the Jaguars have approximately $16.5 million in cap space for 2018. Take away $10 million to sign the draft class and that leaves the team with $6.5 million. The Jaguars can clear $19.053 million by cutting Bortles. Cutting running back Chris Ivory ($3.87 million) and receiver Allen Hurns ($7 million) would help, salary-cap savings and cap rollover.

The Jaguars structure their free-agent contracts and extensions to include all (or nearly all) of the guaranteed money in the first two years, cornerback A.J. Bouye,[url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/ryan-shazier-jersey-authentic]Authentic Ryan Shazier Jersey[/url],[url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/joe-haden-jersey-authentic]Womens Joe Haden Jersey[/url], so a lot of money gets freed up in 2019 from defensive end Calais Campbell, defensive tackle Malik Jackson and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.

If the Browns decide Cousins is the answer, they need to act with certainty and aggressively. They also have to recognize that the bidding for Cousins will be higher than it ever has been,[url=http://www.steelersfootballauthentics.com/anthony-chickillo-jersey-authentic]Authentic Anthony Chickillo Jersey[/url], and that coming off a 1-31 record they are at a severe disadvantage in selling their team and culture. The failure of the past two seasons means the Browns have to overpay. So be it.

They start from strength with a league-leading $110 million in salary-cap space. Their highest offer for Cousins shouldn't even make them blink.

That's why $33 million per season over six seasons for Cousins is the offer. It bypasses all the per-game bonus nonsense and other stuff that would only tell Cousins the offer is good, but the team is also worried. It's a direct offer designed to appeal to him, and based on the premise the Browns believe he is "the guy."

After Year 3, they don't pay the bonus and Cousins is a free agent, able to command another large deal. If Cousins has them in the playoffs or even (gasp) reaches a Super Bowl, Cousins would be due an $8 million roster bonus. This gives the Browns an out. If 2021 is the year they want to turn to a young quarterback, the Browns will happily pay it.

Garoppolo set the floor for Cousins, but this offer is one year longer, its per-year average is higher ($33 million to $27.5 million) and its three-year average also is higher ($32.2 million to $28.4 million).