INDIANAPOLIS — The Peyton Manning era in Indianapolis is expected to end today, according to a report.
Citing anonymous sources, ESPN reported Tuesday that the Colts plan to hold a news conference to announce the long-expected decision. Manning and team owner Jim Irsay are expected to attend, the network said.
Colts spokesman Avis Roper said he could not confirm the decision – or that a news conference would be held today – because Irsay was out of town and could not be reached for comment. Neither Irsay nor Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, responded immediately to messages left by The Associated Press.
Manning has said in the past that all he wanted to do was finish his career in a Colts uniform, but an injured neck forced him to miss all of the 2011 season.
“I can’t tell you what an honor it is to go start-to-finish with the same organization here in Indianapolis. That is something I have always wanted to do as a rookie coming out,” Manning said after signing a five-year, $90 million contract in July. “Of course, you never know if that is possible, but after yesterday it is official that I will be an Indianapolis Colt for my entire career. I will not play for another team. My last down of football will be with the Colts, which means a great deal to me.”
But things have changed since last summer. Now it looks like the NFL’s only four-time MVP, and a former Super Bowl champion, won’t be wearing No. 18 for Indy.
With a $28 million bonus payment due Thursday to Manning, his neck problems, and the fact that the Colts own the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, the Colts seem to have deemed it too risky — and too pricey — to keep the longtime franchise quarterback, who will turn 36 later this month.
The twists and turns of a public debate between Manning and Irsay, who have been friends for more than a decade, created the sense the two had been fighting. Irsay twice issued statements to deny a rift.
Still, with the Colts in full rebuilding mode, Irsay has been expected by many to play for the future and let Manning try to chase a second Super Bowl ring somewhere else.
The Colts are expected to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in April’s draft.
Manning’s impending departure marks the end of a remarkably successful era that included the 2006 league title.
He started every meaningful game for 13 seasons in Indy, 227 straight including the playoffs, and took the Colts from perennial also-ran to one of the NFL’s model franchises.
The question is where might Manning land if he is no longer a Colt.
Arizona, Miami, Tennessee and the New York Jets have all been rumored as possible spots, and Manning’s former longtime offensive coordinator Tom Moore did work with the Jets as a consultant less season.
49ERS: San Francisco signed free-agent safety and special teams standout C.J. Spillman to a three-year contract extension that takes him through the 2014 season, another move to keep the secondary intact for the reigning NFC West champions.
SAINTS: Coach Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis have taken “full responsibility” for the bounty program run by former assistant coach Gregg Williams.
In a statement, Payton and Loomis admit violations of league rules “happened under our watch.” They also promised it would never happen again.
Payton and Loomis say Saints owner Tom Benson “had nothing to do” with the bounty pool.
The league’s investigation found that Benson told Loomis to stop the bounty program once the NFL alerted the owner about it, but Loomis did not act. The NFL also said Payton was aware of the program and did nothing to stop it.
Williams now is defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. He met with NFL security officials on Monday as the league continues investigating the bounties.
• The Saints held a workout with veteran receiver Randy Moss, who is trying to make a comeback after spending a year out of pro football.
Loomis confirmed the workout took place, but the club did not provide any details on how the 35-year-old Moss performed.
New Orleans may be in the market for a receiver this offseason because two of quarterback Drew Brees’ regular targets, Marques Colston and Robert Meachem, are entering free agency, and it remains to be seen whether the Saints can offer the type of contracts that both of them want.
CHIEFS: Kansas City released veteran linebacker Demorrio Williams, saving the franchise about $2 million in salary cap space before the start of free agency.