Colts QB Peyton Manning has been cleared to resume his NFL career by doctors, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.
Manning missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing two surgeries on his neck in ’11.
The Colts have a deadline of March 8 to decide to waive Manning, otherwise they owe him a $28 million bonus. Manning and team owner Jim Irsay have talked often with the media over the past two weeks.
Manning said this week that he has no plans to retire, though Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole reported earlier this week that some close to Manning did not believe he would resume his career.
According to Mortensen's report, the stability in Manning's neck would allow him to theoretically play this Sunday, if his arm was ready for it. One source told Mortensen, "it's not a safety issue; it's a performance issue."
The Colts finished 2-14 last season without Manning and will have the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft. Indianapolis is widely expected to use that pick to select Stanford QB Andrew Luck.
The way we see it
This is significant news for Manning's future, and it appears his camp wants to make sure the public knows he can play football in 2012. The Cardinals, Dolphins, Jets, Redskins and 49ers all have been rumored as potential teams that would consider signing Manning. Those teams would need to clear him medically if he became available.
Being "cleared to resume his NFL career" appears to mean that Manning's neck no longer will keep him from playing. The question is whether or not his arm is healthy enough to throw at a high level. This is a step in the right direction for Manning, but many questions remain.