The Indianapolis Colts are starting over. Completely.
Two days after releasing quarterback Peyton Manning, the Colts announced they were cutting four fan favorites: tight end Dallas Clark, running back Joseph Addai, linebacker Gary Brackett and safety Melvin Bullitt. Quarterback Curtis Painter also was released Friday.
"All these players, we'd love to have them here," new general manager Ryan Grigson said during a hastily arranged conference call with reporters. "It's not easy. It's agonizing. They're (salary) cap casualties. It's hard, but with the money involved you can't do certain things."
This is the latest round in a massive housecleaning project that began two months ago when the Colts completed their worst season in two decades. Nobody is immune.
The father-son front office of Bill Polian, the architect of Indy's decade of success, and his son, Chris, was fired the day after the season. Coach Jim Caldwell and most of his staff lost their jobs, too.
And now with shocked fans still getting accustomed to life without Manning, Grigson unleashed another round of sweeping changes.
"It's really a tough deal, it's tough on all of us, especially Mr. Irsay," Grigson said. "Hopefully the fans understand that to achieve the success again that we have had before, we have to make some tough decisions."
The 32-year-old Clark, one of Manning's favorite targets, had been with the team since 2003, when he was drafted in the first round out of Iowa. Clark holds single-season franchise records in receptions (100 in 2009), yards (1,106 in 2009) and touchdowns (11 in 2007). He became the second tight end in NFL history to total 100-plus receptions and was the first at his position in franchise history to earn 1,000-plus receiving yards in a single season.
Addai, 28, was in his sixth season with the Colts after being selected in the first round out of LSU in 2006. He had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2006 and '07.
Brackett and Bullitt, like Manning, were team captains.
Grigson said it was the only way the Colts could make a fresh start.
"We looked at the options and we've done everything we can," he said when asked if they could have redone some deals to keep the cornerstone players. "It is what it is, and you know how this business is. It's tough."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.