Peyton Manning Era Over in Indianapolis
The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis will officially come to an end.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports via ProFootballTalk.com that the Colts will announce they are cutting Manning on Wednesday, after 14 seasons with the team. NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora has also confirmed the news.
The move comes after months of speculation that the Colts would release Manning to avoid paying him a $28 million bonus. Manning–the NFL’s only four-time MVP–missed the entire 2011 season after he was unable to return to full health for a neck injury that required multiple surgeries. Without him behind center, the Colts went 2-14 and hold the first overall pick in April’s draft, which they will presumably use on Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
Manning has been working on getting healthy to play in the 2012 season, and reports over the past few weeks have confirmed that his progression is improving. Several teams have so far reportedly said they would be interested in pursuing Manning, who will now become a free agent–probably the most sought-after one in NFL history.
The Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins are all teams that have openly said they would go after Manning in free agency, which begins March 13th. Other teams that are speculated to also seek Manning are the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers, but there will likely be others in the mix now that his release is confirmed.
Manning had one of the greatest runs by any player in NFL history for a single team. In those 14 seasons with the Colts, he was voted to 11 Pro Bowls and named an All-Pro eight times. He led the Colts to 11 playoff appearances–including a Super Bowl XLI victory, in which he was the game’s MVP– eight division titles, and an NFL record seven straight seasons with at least 12 wins from 2003-2009.
Even though Manning’s time with the Colts is over, his career is not. He will be 36-years-old by the start of next season, and if healthy, could play for another three or four. It should be war between many teams in free agency for the rights to Manning, and whatever team wins him should instantly become Super Bowl contenders.