It’s official: The Indianapolis Colts are parting ways with quarterback Peyton Manning. At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Colts owner Jim Irsay -- who fought off tears as Manning watched over his right shoulder -- announced that the team was releasing the franchise icon and retiring Manning’s No. 18 jersey.
As soon as the Colts make it official with the league office, Manning will become an unrestricted free agent. Since he is being released, teams don’t have to wait until the start of free agency on March 13 to pursue him.
When news leaked Tuesday night that the goodbye news conference would be held in Indianapolis, national football writers began speculating where Manning might land. Baltimore made it on a couple of lists, despite the presence of Joe Flacco, the 27-year-old quarterback the Ravens are trying to sign to a long-term contract.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome was asked at last month’s NFL scouting combine -- the Ravens met Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, during that event -- if the team would show interest in Manning if he were to be released.
“Joe’s under contract for a year and we’ve already gone on record to say Joe Flacco will be our quarterback,” Newsome told reporters. “If he does get hurt then we like Tyrod Taylor.”
Newsome reportedly laughed off a follow-up question about Manning.
To be fair, Newsome couldn’t really comment on having interest in Manning because the NFL considers that tampering. But it’s obvious that the Ravens see Flacco as their future under center. They are meeting with Linta again next week to discuss Flacco’s extension. So even though he has a laser, rocket arm, Manning doesn’t appear to be a fit -- and that’s not even considering the salary cap situation.
Of course, as we saw Wednesday when the Colts said goodbye to a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback who led them to a Super Bowl title and made them one of the marquee franchises of the last decade, you probably shouldn’t rule anything out in this business.
But you can probably rule out Manning signing with the Ravens.
If you want to see Manning play in Maryland, though, don’t fret. The Washington Redskins are one of the teams expected to be in the running for Manning, along with the Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and maybe teams such as the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets.
Where Manning winds up could affect the Ravens, who have to be hoping their longtime nemesis says goodbye to the AFC, too.