Four-time NFL MVP quarterback Peyton Manning has been cut by the Indianapolis Colts. The 36-year-old will now become the most prized NFL free agent, and will have his choice as to where he would like to continue his historic career.
In his 14 years with Indianapolis, Manning led the Colts to 11 play-off appearances and two Super Bowls. He is third all-time in NFL history in passing yards (54,828) and touchdowns (399) and was MVP in Super Bowl XLI when he captained his team to victory over the Chicago Bears in 2007.
Despite his pedigree, the quarterback's release is no surprise. Manning sat out the entire 2011 season with a serious neck injury, and questions still remain as to whether he will be able to recuperate fully. Without Manning, the Colts had the worst record in the NFL at 2-14 last season, giving Indianapolis the No 1 pick in this year's NFL draft.
With the release, the Colts not only avoided paying Manning the $28m (£17.8m) bonus he was due to receive today, but also cleared a path for quarterback Andrew Luck, who is the consensus No 1 draft pick this year, and although the draft is not until 26 April, it is fully expected that the Colts will select the elite Stanford quarterback.
As for Manning, he will have many suitors. The Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and Washington Redskins are all expected to be interested. Manning has been training throughout the off-season and, even after four neck operations in the past 19 months, claims to be healthy.
While we don't know whether or not Manning will be able to regain his exceptional athletic ability, we do know one thing. He will no longer be playing for the Colts.