OK, so Peyton Manning is a ripe old 35 and has neck 'issues.' He's still going to be a catch for some NFL team looking for a savvy, deep-throwing quarterback. Redskins? Dolphins? Chiefs? Seahawks?
A year or two ago, it was unfathomable to picture Peyton Manning in anything but the Indianapolis Colts’ blue and white. But it’s happened: The Colts have cut one of the best quarterbacks of a generation, a man who brought 14 seasons of dominant play, four MVP awards, one Super Bowl Championship, and a new stadium to the city of Indianapolis. Manning will probably be donning a helmet next season, but it won’t have a horseshoe on it.
"I've been a Colt for almost all of my adult life," a tearful Manning said Wednesday at the noon press conference announcing that he and the Colts would be parting ways. "I haven't thought yet about where I'll play."
Still, Manning stressed that he was "confident" he'd play in the fall, and that he doesn't want to retire. "I still want to play. There's no other team I've wanted to play for, but I've loved playing, quarterback."
Painful? Yes, but far from a surprise. For months, all signs have indicated that the Colts wouldn’t pick up the remaining four years on Manning’s contract, after he sat out the entire season due to a neck injury that required four surgical procedures. A dismal 2 and 14 season followed for the Colts, resulting in a top-to-bottom restructuring of the organization – head coach Jim Caldwell, general manager Bill Poilan, and vice chairman Chris Poilan were fired, and the club has set its sights on building a team around quarterback Andrew Luck, the top draft prospect out of Stanford.
That left little room for Manning, or the $28 million he was due by the end of this week, if the Colts had decided to keep him.