The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis is coming to an end on Wednesday.
The Colts will officially do what has been widely expected for months and formally announce that they’re releasing Manning on Wednesday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports. Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay are expected to attend a joint announcement.
Manning’s departure comes after missing the entire 2011 season as a result of a neck injury that required multiple surgeries. In recent weeks a number of reports have suggested that Manning is progressing through rehabilitation and should be ready to play the 2012 season, but the reality is that the Colts had to choose this week between cutting Manning and paying him a $28 million roster bonus, and there was no way they were going to pay that money to a player whose health status is very much up in the air.
And so the Colts will move on without the surefire Hall of Fame quarterback who has led the franchise since he was the first pick in the 1998 draft, and they’ll hope that the first pick in the 2012 draft (most likely Andrew Luck) will develop into a player of Manning’s caliber.
And Manning will be an unrestricted free agent who can shop himself to any NFL team. If he’s as healthy and prepared for 2012 as the recent reports have suggested, some NFL team is going to get one of the best free agent acquisitions in NFL history.