In a joint press conference this afternoon attended by Peyton Manning and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, the Colts announced the termination of their star quarterback’s contract, making Manning a free agent with the ability to sign with any team.
“It’s an incredible blessing,” Irsay said. “As difficult as this day is, it’s made difficult because of the greatness and the things Peyton has done for our city, for our state, for our franchise. There will be no other Peyton Manning.”
Irsay said that Manning’s No. 18 jersey will be retired.
“Our circumstances make it best for us to take this next step,” Manning said. “It certainly has not been easy for me.”
The Colts are releasing Manning after 14 years because he was due a $28 million roster bonus after missing the entire 2011 season due to season-ending neck surgery a week before the beginning of the regular season.
With the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, the Colts are expected to draft Manning’s successor, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
Manning said he will not retire, but does not know what the next step will be for him.
“I am confident,” Manning said about his recovery. “I’m throwing it pretty well. I’ve still got some work to do, I’ve got some progress to make, but I’ve come a long way.
“I’ve really worked hard. I can’t tell you the hours and the time I’ve put into working hard. I really enjoy being back out there.”