(CBS News) -- After 14 seasons as the face of the franchise, the Indianapolis Colts plan to announce they will be releasing quarterback Peyton Manning on Wednesday, CBS News has confirmed. The news was first reported by ESPN.
The Colts were facing a tough decision regarding Manning, as they hold the rights to the first pick in this year's NFL draft, where former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is widely presumed to be a sure-fire prospect, much like Manning once upon a time. If the Colts had kept Manning on the roster through Friday, he would have been owed a $28 million roster bonus.
By releasing Manning and not picking up a four-year option on his contract, the superstar quarterback appears poised to become a free agent. While the market for the highly marketable Manning will be hot, there will be some questions about the quarterback's health, as he missed the entire 2011 season with a neck injury. Reports indicate he has received four separate surgeries on the neck while not playing.
ESPN reports that Manning's throwing strength has improved since his last neck surgery on Sept. 8.