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NFL’s Colts to cut QB Peyton Manning

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — Peyton Manning will be dropped by the Indianapolis Colts after 14 seasons with the NFL club that included a Super Bowl title in 2007, ESPN reported on Tuesday.

Citing unnamed sources close to the team, the US-based sports television network reported that Manning and Colts coach Jim Irsay would speak at a news conference in Indianapolis on Wednesday to announce the decision.

The Colts have until Thursday to pay Manning, who missed all of last season after three neck operations to fuse vertebrae, a $28 million bonus and pick up the remaining four years on his NFL contract.

Declining the option means Manning will be a free agent and able to make his own deal with any club, an option the four-time NFL Most Valuable Player is expected to pursue, according to the report.

Doctors have cleared Manning to return to the NFL and resume his career although some sources were concerned about his arm strength as nerves regenerated following the most recent operation last September.

Manning had not missed a start for the Colts until last season, but his absence played a major role in the team finishing a league-worst 2-14 and obtaining the first pick in next month’s NFL Draft.

That gives the Colts an opportunity to look to the future and they are expected to take US collegiate gridiron star quarterback Andrew Luck of Stanford with the top selection in the draft.

Manning took the Colts to the playoffs 11 times and took Indianapolis to two Super Bowls, losing the most recent to New Orleans at Miami in 2010.

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