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Manning will become a free agent the minute he is released

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Plenty of you have asked for an explanation of Peyton Manning’s status once, as expected, the Colts release him on Wednesday.

It’s simple.  He’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Although free agency officially opens next Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, that applies only to players whose contracts expire then, like Colts receiver Reggie Wayne.

Actually, Manning is under contract for one more year, four if the Colts pick up the $28 million option.  The Colts plan to terminate the contract because the contract requires payment of $28 million, regardless of whether the option is exercised or not, before the start of the new league year on March 13.  The only way to avoid the payment is to cut Peyton by Friday, March 9.

Of course, the payment also could be avoided if Manning agrees to delay the due date via a revision to his contract.  We’ve previously explained that Manning could do that, if so inclined.

Regardless of whether the Colts have asked him to do it or Manning refused, that hasn’t happened.

And so once Peyton is a free agent, he’ll be free to sign with any team.  More importantly, he’ll be able to work out for interested franchises, like receiver Randy Moss did on Tuesday with the Saints.

So if the Colts truly believe they can’t watch Peyton throw while he’s still under contract — a flimsy, hypertechnical interpretation of the CBA aimed in our view at allowing the Colts to say to their fans, “How can we pay him $28 million if we can’t watch him throw?”– they can invite him to show what he can do after he is released, and they can try to sign him to a new contract, if he’s interested.

He won’t be.  The Colts are rebuilding, and they fully intend to draft Manning’s replacement.  The Colts can’t afford to pay Manning, and Manning can’t afford to try to chase another championship with a team that no longer has the pieces to compete.

in the end, Peyton will join a new team, a move that not long ago was as unthinkable as seeing Joe Montana playing for anyone other than the 49ers, and Brett Favre playing for a team not named the Packers.

Under the circumstances, it’s hard not to wonder when we’ll see guys like Tom Brady and Eli Manning in new uniforms, too.

UPDATE 10:23 a.m. ET 3/7/12:  As Adam Schefter of ESPN points out, Manning technically is available to be signed as of 4:00 p.m. ET, when his name appears on the daily transaction report.  As a practical matter, however, the moment the Colts announce that they have relinquished their rights to Manning, he is fair game to be wooed and pursued, and he will be.  He just can’t put his name at the bottom of a contract until 4:01 p.m. ET.

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92 Responses to “Manning will become a free agent the minute he is released”
  1. stoutfiles says: Mar 6, 2012 11:32 PM

    I love the included picture, it’s the exact opposite of Peyton’s physical condition right now.

  2. skipbayless says: Mar 6, 2012 11:35 PM

    I didn’t know Peyton was in Space Jam.

  3. mikehockhurtz says: Mar 6, 2012 11:36 PM

    And some knuckleheads who want to sell season tickets and advertising space will over-pay for a QB thats destined to go down with a season ending injury after a blindside hit….

    Go get ’em Redskins….


    NFC East

  4. ogarcz says: Mar 6, 2012 11:38 PM

    another disappointment for the jets…

  5. babyhorsemorgan says: Mar 6, 2012 11:38 PM

    Now Peyton going to have to throw all them caps away. Dang.

  6. eastcoastblows says: Mar 6, 2012 11:38 PM

    Los Angeles Raiders of Anaheim

  7. battlered says: Mar 6, 2012 11:39 PM

    Can Peyton be released by the Colts and then resigned by the Colts under a more manageable contract that would be similar to what other teams would offer him (Incentive laden based on his current health)?

  8. upperdecker19 says: Mar 6, 2012 11:39 PM

    I eagerly await confirmation from Rob Lowe as to which teams are immediately interested in Peyton.

  9. mikehockhurtz says: Mar 6, 2012 11:42 PM

    Stupid kicker

  10. realpro14 says: Mar 6, 2012 11:43 PM

    i think sometimes we forget its a business and players are commodities…the neck is serious business and 28 mil is alot of money for the unknown….Hope Peyton comes back strong…i believe hes worth every penny

  11. athanasios3337 says: Mar 6, 2012 11:46 PM

    It’s sounding like Miami is the most likely place for Manning…if so, I’m not sure where Flynn ends up. I don’t think Cleveland or D.C. seem to be that high on him.

  12. thesportsguy52 says: Mar 6, 2012 11:48 PM

    Hey, is Peyton Manning going to get released? What’s going on with that particular situation? I must have missed something.

  13. rickastleydancemoves says: Mar 6, 2012 11:50 PM

    Good, they can finally convert his helmet back into the hot tub it once was.

  14. billybob91 says: Mar 6, 2012 11:57 PM

    Rex Ryan is probably already staying in a hotel somewhere in downtown Indy with Mike Tannenbaum. Stephen Ross is probably in the room next to them.

    Tom Brady won’t be in another uniform plain and simple. He’ll walk away before injuries catch up to him. Most likely in 2-4 years. Then the Ryan Mallett era will begin.

  15. TSizzleBallSoHard says: Mar 6, 2012 11:58 PM

    Should go to San Fran. The 49ers would win the Super Bowl every year that Peyton played for them.

  16. consolecomplaints says: Mar 6, 2012 11:58 PM

    I don’t really care where Manning winds up…but I do wonder how his new contract will affect Drew Brees contract negotiations in New Orleans. If someone throws down $23 million a year on Manning with questionable arm strength and an injured neck, then the Saints are screwed with their $19 million-ish a year offer.

  17. rascalmanny says: Mar 6, 2012 11:59 PM

    1) There’s no guarantee that Luck will be great or survive in the NFL.

    2) Irsay seems to be losing his mind.

    3) How much will Luck’s contract be? Compared to $28 million for a proven QB?

  18. 6kings says: Mar 6, 2012 11:59 PM

    Archie ended in Minnesota. It would be fitting for his boys to as well.

  19. enriqueic says: Mar 6, 2012 11:59 PM

    so this is how it ends. He took your team from worst to first.

  20. lechemas says: Mar 7, 2012 12:01 AM

    You are a complete tool, Stoutfool.

    stoutfiles says: Mar 6, 2012 11:32 PM

    I love the included picture, it’s the exact opposite of Peyton’s physical condition right now.

  21. soforizo says: Mar 7, 2012 12:03 AM

    I think Tom Brady will be able to retire with his own team.

  22. truthserum4u says: Mar 7, 2012 12:06 AM

    He’s lucky he didn’t injure more than his neck jumping off goal posts like that. So much for it blaming Williams’ bounty program in Washington.

  23. plum13sec says: Mar 7, 2012 12:07 AM

    One of the bestt free agents ever in history

  24. billsfan27 says: Mar 7, 2012 12:10 AM

    And two minutes after he’s released, Rex Ryan will trip over a chocolate sundae reaching for the phone.

  25. jesuswalksbelieveit says: Mar 7, 2012 12:13 AM

    Miami will not get peyton manning he will prob go to Arizona makes alot of sense

  26. dubblelznhell says: Mar 7, 2012 12:14 AM

    Randy Moss from Manning would be crazy.

  27. kmurph1226 says: Mar 7, 2012 12:15 AM

    I think I may rip my hair out if Manning doesn’t choose his team in the next week or so. It’s nothing against Manning. I just can’t stand when the media feels covering the same player 85% of their time instead of talking about different issues.

    The Miami Heat will beat the Washington Wizards and ESPN will discuss if this changes Manning’s stance on the Dolphins and Redskins. Get ready everyone.

  28. brenenostler says: Mar 7, 2012 12:17 AM

    I guess when you really think about it, probably the biggest person to blame for all this is Curtis Painter.

    But as a Colts fan, I’m sure I’ll love him in three years when Andrew Luck is getting this team back into the playoffs.

  29. ibreathefootball says: Mar 7, 2012 12:19 AM

    Welcome to Miami, Peyton.

  30. bigjdve says: Mar 7, 2012 12:19 AM

    Let’s see how long it takes him to get signed and where it is.

  31. eknirb says: Mar 7, 2012 12:19 AM

    Peyton, pls come to SF. Play three more years and debut the new stadium, construction starts July.

  32. jgava19 says: Mar 7, 2012 12:22 AM

    I’m thinking he may end up in Arizona with Reggie Wayne too. Manning/Reggie/Fitz?
    Could be special.

  33. gregjennings85 says: Mar 7, 2012 12:27 AM

    …or Drew Brees. I agree.

    I’ll tell you this: Brandon Marshall made Jay Cutler look great in Denver…Manning and he could do some serious damage.

  34. maddenisfordorks says: Mar 7, 2012 12:28 AM

    Welcome to …….!!!!

  35. mattbydlon says: Mar 7, 2012 12:29 AM

    Ha, that picture of Peyton cat-pouncing in front of the goalposts is so 90s…

  36. east96st says: Mar 7, 2012 12:29 AM

    Eli ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. Giants have NO one backing him up that can keep the NY competitive for more than a game or two, at best. Unless Jerry Reese can find a Victor Cruz like QB undrafted free agent, no Eli means the Giants get the first pick in the draft. Can you imagine how ugly it would have gotten if San Fran knocked Eli out of the playoff game early and David Carr came in and started taking those shots? San Fran would have won by 49 points.

  37. bw82b says: Mar 7, 2012 12:30 AM

    ELI will be a lifelong GIANT.

  38. meytonpanning says: Mar 7, 2012 12:31 AM

    Could you imagine if he went to Miami? He’d have Marshall and Bush to throw to, not to mention Reggie Wayne and/or Pierre Garçon if they go with him

  39. truthfactory says: Mar 7, 2012 12:34 AM

    They guy carried terrible teams to the playoffs and 2 Super Bowls over his past 4 years. Even with all their “pro-bowl star” players last year, they were a 2-14 team. Imagine what he could do with an “average” team around him?

  40. 1paulkemp1 says: Mar 7, 2012 12:41 AM

    Go west young man, haven’t you been told, San Francisco’s the place to get another Lombardi Trophy to hold….

  41. eaglesnoles05 says: Mar 7, 2012 12:45 AM

    This is gonna be fun!

  42. willywonkaschocolatetaco says: Mar 7, 2012 12:45 AM

    Lets all be honest with ourselves here. There are only 4 teams that could actually, *realistically* sign Manning where it would make sense for both sides:

    – Kansas City Chiefs
    – Miami Dolphins
    – Arizona Cardinals
    – Washington Redskins
    – Seattle Seahawks

    These are the 5 teams with a legitimate shot at landing him. Scoff all you want, Jets, Browns, Texans, Vikings, and Broncos fans. If it’s about money, he’ll be a Redskin. If it’s about the best shot at going to the playoffs, it’s probably the Chiefs. If it’s about riding off into the sunset and making some noise along the way, it’s between Miami and Arizona. Seattle is a wildcard (and unlikely when you figure he’s from NO, went to school at Tennessee, and played in the Midwest his whole career).

    Just my 2 cents. But what do I know? I’m Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Taco.

  43. ivegotbigblogs says: Mar 7, 2012 12:53 AM

    May the “Curse of the big Bambino” fall to you Indy. Manning to MN!

  44. emperorzero says: Mar 7, 2012 12:53 AM

    When Joe Montana went to the Chiefs, then I knew anything was possible in the NFL.

  45. pacodawg says: Mar 7, 2012 1:04 AM

    Welcome to Cleveland sir!

  46. underrated49ers says: Mar 7, 2012 1:05 AM

    Wow! Look at that vertical leap!

  47. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Mar 7, 2012 1:12 AM

    I disagree with “Under the circumstances, it’s hard not to wonder when we’ll see guys like Tom Brady and Eli Manning in new uniforms, too.” While I see where you’re going, I still believe QB’s of that caliber can stay with their teams until they retire. It might of happened with Favre but look who replaced him.. A long with Joe being replaced by Steve.. I don’t think Bill lets Tom go if he doesn’t see what he wants in Ryan Mallet or w/e QB is 2nd by then. John Elway is a good example, Troy Aikmen*, you could argue Kurt Warner. Just sayin..

  48. peytonsneck18 says: Mar 7, 2012 1:13 AM

    Teams will have to open their checkbooks up. Cause Peyton won’t come cheap. Either will wayne or pierre gar-bage

  49. purp4lyfe says: Mar 7, 2012 1:18 AM

    I think my house is haunted…

  50. coltsfan23il says: Mar 7, 2012 1:22 AM

    I still contend he stays a colt! Watch what he and Irsay do tomorrow during the press conference.

  51. detroitcityryda says: Mar 7, 2012 1:26 AM

    I love the photo still ” yayyy” im free from this hell zone for the next 10 years called the irsay colts

  52. fm31970 says: Mar 7, 2012 1:28 AM

    A little early for the Eli comment, I think.

    As for Brady, I could see him doing something similar to what Montana did if it ever comes to that, but I doubt it would ever happen unless the Partriots ownership changes hands. Brady seems intent on playing past 40, but sometimes even the legends (Montana, Unitas, Favre) can’t face reality and see it’s time to call it a career.

  53. andrejohnsonforpresident says: Mar 7, 2012 1:31 AM

    O an one more thing,
    Mr. Manning theres a message for you
    Who’s it from?
    Seems to be from Houston, it only says D-Fence
    Hmm open it and read it to me.
    Roses are red
    violets are blue
    get the f out
    or you will be too.
    -Wade Phillips an Co.

  54. kevpft says: Mar 7, 2012 1:32 AM

    I hope he wins another Super Bowl.

  55. kckingb says: Mar 7, 2012 1:34 AM

    Party for Jim Irsray at One Arrowhead Drive, starts 3/7/12 4:00pm Sharp!

  56. sam14218 says: Mar 7, 2012 1:35 AM

    Have a hunch that i’ll see this headline soon : Baltimores Sweet Revenge…Manning to sign with Ravens

    If Peyton can play at a high level, than this makes complete sense. Caldwell is hired as QB coach. Flacco and Ravens plan on extension (smoke screen). Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the aging defense’s last efforts to win the title.

    Oh and lets not forget the chance for the city of Baltimore to show the Irsay’s that karma’s a b**ch.

  57. fijabbersman345 says: Mar 7, 2012 1:43 AM

    I love the included picture, it’s the exact opposite of Peyton’s physical condition right now.


    And yet, somehow, I would bet that Peyton is in ten times a better physical condition then you are right now.

  58. phillybirds says: Mar 7, 2012 1:45 AM

    Eli Manning??? Really???

  59. azheat says: Mar 7, 2012 2:09 AM

    I can’t wait to see what happens.

    St. Louis better hurry up and trade that 2nd pick…If Peyton signs with Miami or Washington..the number of teams wanting that pick could be 1 less.

  60. azheat says: Mar 7, 2012 2:15 AM

    My dream for QBs is Peyton to AZ…RG3 to Miami

    Yeah I’m dreaming for my 2

  61. jeremywflores says: Mar 7, 2012 2:21 AM

    Throwing to Fitzgerald in sunny weather sounds awesome.

    Not having to carry the team with the 49ers’ defense and running game is also a good but highly unlikely option.

  62. themage78 says: Mar 7, 2012 2:51 AM

    The Colts haven’t given Peyton the tools to compete for a long time now. It was blantantly obvious in the Superbowl vs the Siants. The only way that organization was winning was because Manning was a great offensive mind, player, and coach.

  63. rarelyclever says: Mar 7, 2012 2:51 AM

    A player released in the offseason is eligible to sign with another team? Well damn, we come for the news, but we stay for the “insight.” Appreciate the intel.

  64. freedomispopular says: Mar 7, 2012 3:00 AM

    Only 2 QBs have started in the Super Bowl for multiple teams (neither one multiple times) and a few have come close to accomplishing it. It’ll be interesting to see what Peyton’s mark on history will be.

  65. ljtola says: Mar 7, 2012 3:28 AM

    Are you really comparing Colts ownership to Pats and NYG?

  66. edgarcaetano says: Mar 7, 2012 3:40 AM

    is Rex Ryan already practicing parallel parking in front of Manning’s house? (using Sanchez as an garbage can?)

  67. bobhk says: Mar 7, 2012 5:27 AM

    Under the circumstances, it’s hard not to wonder when we’ll see guys like Tom Brady and Eli Manning in new uniforms, too.

    It’s probable. Very few stars retire with the team they played for most of their career.

    After all, Montana ended with the Chiefs, Unitas ended with Chargers (I think), Rice ended with Raiders and Hawks, Emmitt Smith ended with Cards, and on and on.

    Young and Aikman finished with their teams but it was more because they were injury battered.

    The differences arise from the fact that the star thinks he can still play and the organization wants to move on (either because they have a replacement or they don’t think he can play)

  68. tombrookshire says: Mar 7, 2012 5:32 AM

    Brady and Manning will stay put with their teams unless they are as badly hurt as P. Manning with an uncertain future. P. Manning is nothing more than a big, expensive question mark at this point with a huge downside. As soon as he starts auditioning, the league will then know if Manning is able to play or should retire.

  69. srrjr82 says: Mar 7, 2012 5:51 AM

    Lets make this easier. He won’t be going to:


    Any other team would be crazy to not consider.

  70. nationalmediacansuckit says: Mar 7, 2012 5:55 AM

    One player hurt, entire franchise in the dirt. How sad. Its just a matter of time until the “great fanbase” of Indy go back to putting 30k in the seats just like pre- Peyton.

  71. seatownballers says: Mar 7, 2012 5:59 AM

    Mr. manning you have just started the biggest media swarm in the off season. Thank you for over shadowing this stupid bounty story that I have no interest in. I wish you the best, regardless of where ya go. HOF awaits you

  72. blackqbwhiterb says: Mar 7, 2012 6:25 AM

    Manning Football Inc., as I call it, will remain a hugely profitable business, simply in a new city. I’d love to see him in Washington, and I could make a case for that, but I believe he’ll go to Arizona

  73. Matt-NC says: Mar 7, 2012 6:30 AM

    I wonder how long the banner of him outside of Lucas will remain?

  74. erfoster says: Mar 7, 2012 6:33 AM

    i want to see big ben in another uniform.

  75. bleed4philly says: Mar 7, 2012 6:56 AM

    Is it possible he could be on another team as of today too? I think Stephen Ross is on his way to Indy as we speak.

  76. miamiwesley says: Mar 7, 2012 7:06 AM

    Steven Ross must say to Manning…”Peyton, we know we have a home for you here in Miami, we are confident this is the best place for you.” “However, we know you will have many choices, when you are ready to speak with us about a contract, please don’t hesitate to contact us immediately.”

    Ross must do something different here, he cannot, absolutely cannot, jump on his plane and make the first mad dash at Manning. He has failed twice before using this method.

  77. 1historian says: Mar 7, 2012 7:14 AM

    bobhk – your 5:27 a.m.

    good point – they just don’t know when to quit. I don’t believe either Brady or Eli will stay on past time. I just don’t. It is really sad to see guys like that stay on past and then waaay past when they should hang it up. IMO they should hang it up when they still have a little left in the tank.

    Or – Go out on top, like Jim Brown.

  78. tuxbirds says: Mar 7, 2012 7:28 AM

    I think it is something how Jim Irsay messed this up just like his drunken old man Bob did with Johnny U and John Elway. Sign Manning to a $90M contract when he knows he has neck issues then 6 months later wants to renegotiate. They will go down in history as the lousiest and dumbest owners ever in the NFL. Colt fans in Indy now feel Baltimore’s pain. I hope Payton goes into the HOF in another team’s colors. Keep the Indy Colt HOF number at ZERO. Thank God Steve Biscotti knows what he is doing.

  79. Mary Jane says: Mar 7, 2012 7:36 AM

    Massive Colts fan here. What I don’t get about the “hyper technical interpretation” is that the Colts don’t have to explain anything to us fans. We understand the deal. Its not like this has just been sprung on us.

  80. bpeve34 says: Mar 7, 2012 7:49 AM

    here is an idea for you…. Manning in the pumpkin orange!?!?!! look Cleveland needs a QB but also needs those 2 first round draft picks, how about they sign Manning and Wayne and leave the rest of the free agent market alone, draft who ever at #4 pick up Tannehill at #22, he can sit and learn for the next 4 years like Rodgers did behind Favre. Manning in the mean time could very well bring Cleveland its first worlds championship in over 50 years!! Cleveland has a pretty good defense better than some of the defenses Manning won games in the double digits with in indy! Give it some thought Holmgren!!

  81. mrgdawg says: Mar 7, 2012 8:10 AM

    Leave it to the beantown crybabies to talk about Mr. Bunchen when the story isn’t about their team.

  82. haywoodjablomee says: Mar 7, 2012 8:20 AM

    Marino and Elway played for the same team their entire career.

  83. tinkletinkleonyourstar says: Mar 7, 2012 8:27 AM

    phillybirds says:
    Mar 7, 2012 1:45 AM
    Eli Manning??? Really???

    yes! really!!
    that fact has to sting pretty bad doesn’t it!!

  84. jaxbeachjagfan says: Mar 7, 2012 8:33 AM

    There’s a possible landing spot that not many people have mentioned.


    Here is a chance for new owner Khan to make that big splash he’s been talking about. The team has the cap room and Khan has the cash. We are the ONLY team that can offer Manning the chance to beat Indy TWICE every year he continues to play. Unless Manning won’t hold some type of grudge against the Colts, that’s a pretty nice bonus.

  85. drshakedown74 says: Mar 7, 2012 8:56 AM


  86. wacco4flacco says: Mar 7, 2012 9:30 AM

    As Will Smith said … “Welcome to Miami”

  87. bengalsmatt says: Mar 7, 2012 9:31 AM

    I am not sure that this is correct. Doesn’t Manning have to go through the waiver process like everyone else? How can he sign the minute he is released if he has to clear waivers first? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone will pick up that crazy contract, but it seems like bad reporting to state that he can sign “the minute he is released” if he actually has to clear waivers.

  88. whatnojets says: Mar 7, 2012 9:43 AM

    Isn’t there lke a thirty second tape delay order to out vulgar language????

  89. war27 says: Mar 7, 2012 9:45 AM

    It’s still 4pm

  90. samoan1 says: Mar 7, 2012 9:59 AM

    Peyton in the Big Red! Makes more sense!

  91. ljtola says: Mar 7, 2012 10:06 AM

    foster says: Mar 7, 2012 6:33 AM

    i want to see big ben in another uniform

    A prison uniform?

  92. ernie ernie says: Mar 7, 2012 10:07 AM

    Here’s a case where I don’t blame anyone for this situation.
    The owner is looking at an unproven product (injured), 28 million payday and a QB in the twilite of his career and a first round pick in the draft. There can be only one rational decision and thats to let him go.

    Manning looks at the Colts and knows they aren’t drafting someone to sit on the bench so his role may very well be backup so by moving on he has a good chance to start somewhere else and still get decent money.

    In a way its a win win for both parties. Sure the Colts are sorry to let him go and sure Manning is sorry to leave but its just the business and all the situations above that come into play.

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