- Associated Press - Friday, March 9, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis Colts are starting over. Completely.

Two days after releasing Peyton Manning, the longtime face of the franchise, the Colts announced they were cutting four fan favorites: running back Joseph Addai, linebacker Gary Brackett, safety Melvin Bullitt and tight end Dallas Clark. Quarterback Curtis Painter also was released Friday.

“All these players, we’d love to have them here,” new general manager Ryan Grigson said during a hastily arranged conference call with reporters. “It’s not easy. It’s agonizing. They’re (salary) cap casualties. It’s hard, but with the money involved you can’t do certain things.”

This is the latest round in a massive housecleaning project that began two months ago when the Colts completed their worst season in two decades. Nobody is immune.

The father-son front office of Bill Polian, the architect of Indy’s decade of success, and his son, Chris, was fired the day after the season. Coach Jim Caldwell and most of his staff lost their jobs, too.

On Wednesday, team owner Jim Irsay announced the biggest move of all _ the release of Manning, the only four-time MVP in league history.

And now with shocked fans still getting accustomed to life without No. 18, Grigson unleashed another round of sweeping changes that almost certainly will rile up the fan base.

“It’s really a tough deal, it’s tough on all of us, especially Mr. Irsay,” Grigson said. “Hopefully the fans understand that to achieve the success again that we have had before, we have to make some tough decisions.”

Some?

This week’s moves coupled with the list of those already scheduled to become free agents next week mean the Colts could have seven new starters on offense this fall. Those leaving could include Manning, Addai, Clark, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Ryan Diem and Jeff Saturday.

“These players all made tremendous contributions to the organization and will forever be members of the Colts family,” owner Jim Irsay said in a statement issued by the team. “It’s always difficult to make these decisions, which the nature of the salary cap requires.”

And the moves may not be over yet. Grigson declined to comment on a report that Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney is on the trading block.

Grigson said injuries played no role in the latest moves and gave fans no timeline for when they could expect Indianapolis to make another playoff run.

The problem is that even with the cuts, the Colts might not have much cap room to sign free agents until next year.

“We are going to do our best. You’d love to go out with your shopping cart and go get the guys you like,” Grigson said. “We are going to do the best we can under the circumstances we have right now.”

Story Continues →