When the Indianapolis Colts cleaned house nine months ago, the bulk of the franchise’s best-known players was swept out the door.
Topping the list, of course, was Peyton Manning. He was released March 7, a stunning move that officially stamped the end of an era.
Though Manning was the most noteworthy of the departures, the exodus included a wealth of near-equally prominent figures, such as Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, Gary Brackett and Joseph Addai, to name just a few.
What follows is a brief look at where some did or did not land after being released, lost in free agency or walking away from football.
No point in saving the best for last. His re-emergence in Denver as a leading MVP candidate is one of the top stories in the NFL this season.
After sitting out the entire 2011 campaign with a chronic neck injury, he has started every game for the Broncos and led them to the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. They have a first-round bye, an 11-game winning streak and the league’s best record at 13-3 (Atlanta is also 13-3).
Statistically, it’s one of the best seasons of Manning’s 15-year career. He’s completed 400 of 583 attempts for 4,659 yards, 37 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a passer rating of 105.8 passer rating.
The touchdown passes, passer rating and 68.6 completion percentage are the second-best totals of his career in each category.
A fan-favorite throughout his nine years with the Colts, the sure-handed, tough-as-nails tight end was released March 9.
One of Manning’s favorite targets, Clark enjoyed one of the best seasons in NFL history by a tight end in 2009, when caught 100 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns and was named to his first and only Pro Bowl.
Signed by Tampa Bay on May 21, the 32-year-old played a comparatively lower profile in the Buccaneers’ offense. In nine games, including four starts, he had 20 catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
Another fan-favorite, he, too, was released March 9 after nine seasons with the Colts.
An undrafted free agent in 2003, the personable linebacker personified heart and determination, becoming a starter in 2005 and eventually the defensive captain. He was the rock the defense played around.
Technically a free agent, Brackett, 32, was not signed by another team and did not play this past season.
Another victim of the March 9 purge, Addai was a first-round pick in 2006 and played a prominent role in the Colts’ Super Bowl championship the same year.
Backing up Dominic Rhodes throughout the regular-season, he became the first running back in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards (1,081) without starting a single regular-season game. He started Super Bowl XLI and totaled 143 yards of total offense, including 77 rushing and 66 on 10 receptions — a Super Bowl record for a running back.
Addai followed up with another 1,000-yard season in 2007 and made the Pro Bowl. But his injury-marred career took a downward spiral from there, and he never approached 1,000 yards again.
Signed on May 6 by the New England Patriots, he was cut July 25 and did not play this season.
Yet another March 9 casualty, the undrafted free agent safety played five largely productive seasons with the Colts before injuries took a career-ending toll.
Once considered the heir apparent to former star Bob Sanders’ position, Bullitt spent most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons on injured reserve and was not signed in 2012.
The quarterback Colts fans loved to hate, he was the fifth and final component of the March 9 house-cleaning.
Thrown into the starting breach for the injured Peyton Manning, the likable but flappable former Purdue standout was woefully not up to the task. He made eight winless starts before being replaced by third-stringer Dan Orlovsky late in the season.
Painter was signed April 12 by the Baltimore Ravens and was released Aug. 31. He did not make a regular-season roster in 2012.
One of Indy’s most beloved players throughout his 14 seasons with the Colts, the six-time Pro Bowl center became a free agent after 2011.
Signed to a two-year deal by the Green Bay Packers on March 23, he was the starting center until late in the season, when he was supplanted by third-year pro Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The demotion notwithstanding, the 37-year-old Saturday was still selected for the 2013 Pro Bowl as the NFC’s backup center.
After four tantalizing but not exactly breakout seasons with the Colts, the speedy wide receiver broke the bank by signing a five-year, $42.5 million free agent deal with the Washington Redskins on March 13.
In 2011, he had career-best totals of 70 catches, 947 yards and six touchdowns — good enough for Washington to ensure that $20.5 million of the total free agent contract was guaranteed cash.
Slowed by a foot injury that sidelined him for six games, Garcon has started 10 times for the Redskins and is their second-leading receiver heading into the NFC playoffs with 44 catches for 633 yards and four touchdowns.
Making a name for himself when filling in admirably for an injured Dallas Clark in 2010, the tight end played four seasons with the Colts before following Peyton Manning to Denver after the 2011 season.
Tamme, who had 67 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns in 2010, signed a free agent contract with the Broncos on March 23. A familiar and reliable Manning target, he has 30 catches for 259 yards and one touchdown heading into the AFC playoffs.
A mainstay on the offensive line for more than a decade, the versatile Diem was a fourth-round draft pick in 2001.
Adept at offensive tackle and guard, he played 11 seasons and started 150 of 158 career games with the Colts.
He retired March 23.
An undrafted free agent in 2000, he earned a 12-year living as the Colts’ long-snapper and backup tight end. He played in 200 games and was nearly flawless in each.
In 2003, Snow earned distinction when he and holder Hunter Smith and kicker Mike Vanderjagt became the first snapper, holder and kicker combination to go through an entire NFL season, including the playoffs, without missing a field-goal or extra-point attempt.
Released by the Colts Aug. 31, the 36-year-old signed with Washington on Sept. 11 and performed long-snapping chores until being waived Nov. 6. He did not play again this season.