The separation was expected, but now that it's official, the Colts must start living life Manning-less. Manning's absence will affect the team in more ways than you might think. The Colts won their division eight of the 14 years Manning quarterbacked the team, and it's going to take time to regain that regular dominance.
With other players set to hit the free-agent market, not having Peyton might lead them to leave Indianapolis themselves.
Here's a look at what effects Manning's release will have on the Colts.
Team chemistry was a franchise low last season, as the Colts imploded once Peyton was lost for the season. Chemistry is a delicate part of an NFL team and it derives from leadership.
The team needs a leader to rally around; someone who they know will do everything to win. While there are still veteran leaders on the roster, the biggest one in Manning is now gone.
The transition period of finding a new offensive leader will be a struggle for the Colts. They are expected to select Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, but it will take time for him to acclimate to the NFL. Even Manning himself went 3-13 during his rookie season.
The Colts were able to re-sign defensive end Robert Mathis, which will really help the defense as the team moves forward. The problem is that Mathis was only one of many veteran free agents the Colts would like to keep.
Wide receivers Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzales will all hit the market once free agency begins. Right along with them is tight end Jacob Tamme, who emerged as a decent player when Dallas Clark was injured. If the Colts want Andrew Luck to have some success, they will need to surround him with remarkable offensive weapons.
All these players have experienced what it's like to be on a winning team and what it's like to be on a losing team. Following last season, these guys would probably rather move on to a better team than be a part of the rebuilding process.
Starting center Jeff Saturday and tackle Ryan Diem are also free agents, and the Colts need to get all the help they can for their soon-to-be rookie quarterback.
The Colts have been able to dominate the AFC South ever since it was created in 2002. When other teams were down, the Colts had no problem with running over the struggling conference.
While the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans have been going through a rebuilding process, the Colts and Peyton Manning have owned the division, taking the division title seven out of 10 times.
With Manning out, the tables have finally turned and the rest of the AFC South is salivating to get their licks in on the former dominant team. More specifically, the Texans, who are 3-17 all-time against the Colts, will finally be able to exact revenge.
More than that, the Texans have never beat the Colts in Indianapolis. The Colts will have to bear losing to their rivals until they are able to retain their greatness.
Because the team depended so greatly on Manning, the backup quarterback was always overlooked in Indy. The team learned their lesson the hard way last season, when Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins and Dan Orlovsky combined for two wins in place of Peyton.
There are plenty of eligible backups in this year's free-agent market for the Colts to take. If the Colts can grab the likes of Jason Campbell or Kyle Orton, they would feel more comfortable if they lose their quarterback to injury.
The Colts will be concerned with their backup quarterback for years to come after being embarrassed in 2011.
Andrew Luck is the obvious choice as the No. 1 overall pick for Indianapolis, but the Colts' other six picks should be just as important for the team's future. In Matt Miller's Post-Peyton version of his Colts mock draft, he has them taking guys who will help Luck out from day one.
The Colts are now looking into their future, and this year's draft can go a long way in setting up long-term success for the team.