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Report: Peyton Manning to be released by Colts on Wednesday

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quarterback Peyton Manning is expected to be released by the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday, according to an ESPN report.

Manning, winner of four NFL MVP awards and one Super Bowl championship, would become a free agent just as the Redskins are looking to fill their pressing need at quarterback.

Manning, who turns 36 on March 24, missed the 2011 season while recovering from multiple neck surgeries, including a cervical fusion procedure, he underwent last year. The Redskins are expected to at least evaluate Manning's health to determine whether he can still play at a high level.

Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay is in the process of overhauling his organization. His decision to jettison Manning follows the hiring of a new general manager and head coach. The Colts are expected to use the first pick in the 2012 draft on a quarterback, probably Stanford's Andrew Luck or Baylor's Robert Griffin III.

By releasing Manning, the Colts would avoid paying him the $28 million option bonus due March 8.

Manning has been throwing as part of a strength and rehabilitation program this winter at Duke University and in Florida. He has said that he plans to continue his career. Several teams are expected to explore the possibility of signing him. The list could include Miami, Seattle, Kansas City and the New York Jets.

The Redskins started Rex Grossman and John Beck at quarterback last season but continue to search for stability under center. At his age, Manning doesn't represent a long-term solution for the Redskins like drafting Griffin would, but he would immediately bring credibility not to mention buzz to Washington.

Manning ranks behind Brett Favre and Dan Marino on the all-time lists in passing touchdowns (399) and yards (54,828) in his 13 active seasons. An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, he ranks among the top 10 in nearly every statistical category for a quarterback.

The Colts made Manning the first overall pick in the 1998 draft following his standout college career at Tennessee. Indianapolis went 3-13 in Manning's rookie season but won at least 10 games in 11 of the next 12 seasons, making the playoffs in each of those campaigns.

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