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Attention turns to Manning's future

INDIANAPOLIS — Now that Peyton Manning's 14-year run with the Colts is over, the NFL's only four-time MVP will turn his attention to finding a new team.

The Colts released the quarterback Wednesday rather than pay a $28 million roster bonus. Manning, who turns 36 on March 24, will get plenty of offers assuming his neck is fine after four procedures kept him out last season.

Various media reports have the Redskins and Dolphins going hard after Manning, the Cardinals, Seahawks and Jets already reaching out to him and the Broncos planning to inquire.

On Wednesday night, he flew to Miami, where he has a home. After landing, the media pursued his van. Manning pulled over in a church parking lot but gave no hints of his future: "I have no idea who wants me, what team wants me, how this process works. I don't know if it's like college recruiting where you go take visits."

Earlier, Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay paused often, fighting tears and their voices shaking during a joint news conference announcing the release.

"We all know that nothing lasts forever," said Manning, the first overall pick by the Colts in 1998. "Times change. Circumstances change, and that's the reality of playing in the NFL. I'll always be a Colt. That'll never change."

Manning got choked up while discussing the Colts employees.

"We've got the greatest equipment guys in the world," he said. "I think about those types of relationships; not necessarily always on the field and the touchdown throw to win the game. It's the behind the scenes. The laughs. The stories. Those will be with me for the rest of my life."

The team, which plans to draft Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the top pick, said Manning's No. 18 will be retired.

Said Irsay: "There will be no other Peyton Manning."

Bucs tender Bennett: The Bucs put a first-round tender on defensive end Michael Bennett. It guarantees him a one-year deal worth about $2.7 million, though a long-term deal can be signed. The free agent, 26, who had four sacks last season, can talk with other teams, but the Bucs can match any offer or get a first-round pick. Said Bennett: "It's pretty cool to know they think highly of me."

Bounties: Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton apologized and accepted the blame for the bounty program. "We understand the negative impact it has had on our game," they said in a joint statement. Also, the players union said it will conduct an investigation.

Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.

Attention turns to Manning's future 03/07/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 10:20pm]
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