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Polian: Colts could select Manning's successor in this draft

Peyton Manning has made 11 Pro Bowls, won the NFL's Most Valuable Player award a league-record four times and claimed one Super Bowl championship. He was the MVP in that game, too.

Manning also ranks third in NFL history in passing yards (54,828) and touchdowns (399). But he's 35 years old, meaning the Indianapolis Colts now must think about the previously unthinkable: life without their surefire Hall of Fame quarterback.

Colts vice chairman Bill Polian told *The Indianapolis Star* in a story in Saturday's editions that the team would consider taking a quarterback in this month's draft "in the right situation" because Manning is entering the twilight of his career.

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"Quarterback's an issue, probably not a front-burner issue, but an issue nonetheless because while Peyton's not at the end of his career, it's approaching faster than it has in the past," Polian said.

Manning's future became a hot topic after Colts owner Jim Irsay last month expressed frustration over the quarterback not signing the team's league-high contract offer. The Colts also have worked out two quarterbacks, TCU's Andy Dalton and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, while preparing for the draft.

The Colts own the 22nd overall pick, but Polian wouldn't fully commit to using it on a quarterback. That might be why the team looked at Dalton and Kaepernick, whom many consider to be second-round prospects at best.

"I don't know that you're going to find his eventual replacement drafting 22nd," said Polian, whose Colts have six total picks in the draft. "And whether or not you would use that choice on a quarterback in an unsettled labor situation, where you don't know what kind of contract that's going to be signed, is another issue. That said, I don't think you can dismiss it."

The Colts haven't used a first-round pick on a quarterback since taking Manning No. 1 overall in 1998. Their current backup, Curtis Painter, was a sixth-round selection in 2009, but if the Colts want to groom Manning's eventual successor, they might need to spend a higher draft pick to do it.

When to pull the trigger is the big question.

"You don't know," Polian said, "but you know it's sometime soon. You begin to think about it."

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