Peyton Manning will no longer be an Indianapolis Colt, the Indianapolis Star reports.
The All-American quarterback from Tennessee was drafted number one overall by the Colts in 1998, and has spent his entire professional career playing for the team.
Colts owner Jim Irsay is choosing not to pay a $28 million option bonus that would trigger the final four years of the five-year, $90 million contract Manning signed in July.
Manning’s release comes after an injury-plagued season in which he didn’t play a single snap. He was sidelined after a spinal fusion surgery and multiple other operations to fix a bulging disk in his neck.
Once released Thursday, Manning will officially be able to discuss contract offers with other teams as a free agent.
In recent weeks, videos have surfaced of Manning practicing and working out. He insits he is ready to play again this season.
Statistically, Manning is already one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
In his 13 years in the NFL Manning has four league MVP awards, the most in NFL history, and has played in the Pro Bowl 11 times. He is ranked third all-time in terms of touchdown passes (399), yards (54,828) and completions (4682).
Under Manning, the Colts have made 11 playoff appearances, two Super Bowl appearances and won the Super Bowl after the 2006 season.
Since the Colts moved to Indianapolis before the 1984 season, the difference with and without Manning is night and day.
For the first 14 years the Colts were in Indianapolis, their regular season winning percentage was .395. Between 1998 and 2010, the 12 season in which Manning started every game, the Colts winning percentage was .678.
Before Manning, the Colts won one division title. They won eight after he joined the team.
The Colts won two playoff games before Manning was drafted, and nine after. One of those nine was the Super Bowl.
However, for all that Manning has done on the field, it is Manning’s off-the-field accomplishments that have really made him a hero in Indianapolis.
Manning and his wife are two of the largest philanthropists in Indianapolis. And while number 18 won’t be suiting up for the Colts this year, hundreds of kids will continue to be treated at the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital.
“Even though it was speculated for some time now that this would happen, there is still a shock factor,” said Colts linebacker Gary Brackett. “I know what Peyton has meant to the organization, has meant to me as a teammate. I just definitely wish him the best in whatever happens.”
With no Manning in 2011, the Colts finished with a NFL worst 2-14 record and the first number one overall pick in an NFL draft since taking Manning.
It is speculated that the Colts will take Stanford’s Andrew Luck, who many consider to be the best overall quarterback to come out of college since Manning was selected.
The NFL draft is April 26.