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Peyton Manning: Which teams need the ex-Colt the most? (+video)

OK, so Peyton Manning is a ripe old 35 and has neck 'issues.' He's still going to be a catch for some NFL team looking for a savvy, deep-throwing quarterback. Redskins? Dolphins? Chiefs? Seahawks?

By Contributor / March 7, 2012

Quarterback Peyton Manning, who will be released by the Indianapolis Colts, speaks during a news conference in Indianapolis, Wednesday, March 7, 2012.

Michael Conroy/AP

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A year or two ago, it was unfathomable to picture Peyton Manning in anything but the Indianapolis Colts’ blue and white. But it’s happened: The Colts have cut one of the best quarterbacks of a generation, a man who brought 14 seasons of dominant play, four MVP awards, one Super Bowl Championship, and a new stadium to the city of Indianapolis. Manning will probably be donning a helmet next season, but it won’t have a horseshoe on it.

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Peyton Manning's record-breaking run as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts ended Wednesday, when owner Jim Irsay announced the team would release its best player.

"I've been a Colt for almost all of my adult life," a tearful Manning said Wednesday at the noon press conference announcing that he and the Colts would be parting ways. "I haven't thought yet about where I'll play."
 
Still, Manning stressed that he was "confident" he'd play in the fall, and that he doesn't want to retire. "I still want to play. There's no other team I've wanted to play for, but I've loved playing, quarterback." 

Painful? Yes, but far from a surprise. For months, all signs have indicated that the Colts wouldn’t pick up the remaining four years on Manning’s contract, after he sat out the entire season due to a neck injury that required four surgical procedures. A dismal 2 and 14 season followed for the Colts, resulting in a top-to-bottom restructuring of the organization – head coach Jim Caldwell, general manager Bill Poilan, and vice chairman Chris Poilan were fired, and the club has set its sights on building a team around quarterback Andrew Luck, the top draft prospect out of Stanford.

That left little room for Manning, or the $28 million he was due by the end of this week, if the Colts had decided to keep him.

The 35-year-old veteran could retire, having accomplished everything one could wish from an NFL career. However, it’s more likely he’ll play with another team – and there are plenty that would be glad to have him. Since it became clear that Manning’s departure from the Colts was imminent, the Internet has been humming with football fans and local sports reporters across the country weighing the likelihood of Manning joining their teams.

True, Manning, who turns 36 on March 24, is past his peak playing days, and with his neck issues, some consider him damaged goods. But a past-peak Peyton Manning is still a potent offensive weapon; as became crystal clear in Indianapolis, his intelligence, skill, and game management can make up for a lack of talent elsewhere on the field. So, given that Manning plays next season, where will he be suiting up?

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