One of the most successful marriages in the history of the National Football League came to an end Tuesday as Peyton Manning was released by the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources.
A former All-American quarterback at Tennessee, Manning is entering his 14th NFL season. Manning missed all of the 2011 season following multiple surgeries to repair bulging disks and fuse vertebrae in his neck.
During his career in Indianapolis, Manning won the NFL MVP award four times and AFC Player of the Year six times, he was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times, named All-Pro first team five times, led the Colts to two Super Bowl appearances--winning Super Bowl XLI and Super Bowl XLI MVP, and set Indianapolis records for career wins, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, pass completions, and passing yards.
The decision to release Manning comes just three days short of his scheduled $28 million bonus.
Without Manning, the Colts finished the 2011 season at 2-14 and have the top pick in April's draft. Manning's release opens the door for Indianapolis to select quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford or Robert Griffin III of Baylor. Luck is said to be the best college quarterback prospect since John Elway was drafted out of Stanford almost 30 years ago.
Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay will hold a press conference Wednesday at noon ET to officially announce the split.
The most likely destinations for Manning are Miami, Arizona, New York Jets, or Washington.
Manning's career stats: 4,682/7,210 (64.9%), 54,828 yards, 399 TDs, 198 INTs, 94.9 passer rating