La Canfora: Manning decision made weeks ago

The he said-he said between Colts owner Jim Irsay and QB Peyton Manning this week ended awkwardly with a joint statement from the duo, an effort to “dispel any misperceptions.”

Apparently, they hugged talked it out.

OK, so we’ll buy that Irsay and Manning are all good. But what the statement didn’t say was that Manning will remain with the Colts. While it remains to be seen if he ever will play again, any misperceptions that the four-time NFL MVP will do so with the Colts appear to be long gone.

Just how far?

“According to sources who were involved in the Colts’ GM search, the organization was planning to move on from Manning weeks ago, well before this public squabble between the quarterback and his owner,” NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora said Friday on “NFL Total Access.”

“So Friday’s joint statement won’t be changing a thing.”

Irsay took to Twitter on Saturday night to respond, saying, “No he hasn’t been released nor was a decision reached weeks ago.”

La Canfora reported the Colts will make a move on Manning “almost certainly” before the start of the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine.

That means Irsay only will be able to avoid the distinction of being the owner who dumped Manning for a few more weeks. It’s difficult to blame Irsay for the circumstances, though, given Manning is owed a $28 million roster bonus and the owner has acknowledged his franchise is rebuilding with a new front office, new coaching staff and the likely choice of Stanford QB Andrew Luck with the top overall draft pick.

It’s difficult to see where Manning fits in that scenario, on a team that could be without veterans Reggie Wayne, Jeff Saturday and Robert Mathis. The subtle messages from Team Manning have suggested as much.

It seems the best use of time now is to determine where Manning fits best.

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