Wayne, Mathis, Garcon ready for contract seasons
Peyton Manning’s decision to take less money than he could have
earned in his new deal went over well with some of the most likely
Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, defensive end Robert Mathis and
receiver Pierre Garcon are in the final years of their contracts,
and owner Jim Irsay and vice chairman Bill Polian said keeping them
will be a top priority next year.
By accepting a cap-friendly five-year, $90 million deal, Manning
made keeping them all a more likely scenario.
”He’s a big team guy,” Mathis said. ”It doesn’t surprise me.
He knows he needs guys around him for us to do what we need to do.
He’s aware of that, and he sacrificed for the betterment of the
Wayne said Manning’s decision was symbolic of what the Colts are
”Appreciate it,” Wayne said. ”That just goes to show the type
of team that we have, guys who will step in and be unselfish and
want to do what’s best for the team. He’s definitely an example of
Manning’s decision already has paid dividends. Shortly after
Manning agreed to his new deal, the Colts re-signed three key free
agents: running back Joseph Addai, safety Melvin Bullitt and kicker
The team also redid right tackle Ryan Diem’s contract and
announced it was bringing back defensive tackles Eric Foster and
Antonio Johnson and offensive linemen Kyle DeVan and Michael
Toudouze. DeVan started at left guard the past two seasons, while
Johnson started at defensive tackle.
”We wanted to do something fair for everybody,” Manning said.
”The fact that we signed (Joseph) Addai, Ryan Diem, and Antonio
Johnson right after the fact, that’s what I wanted to do.”
Polian said the domino effect of Manning’s deal will be felt
throughout the course of the deal.
”We are a much better football team because of the sacrifice
and leadership position he took,” Polian said. ”That’s probably
as good a description of him you possibly can find. From the day he
arrived we have been a better football team because of his
sacrifice and hard work and leadership, and that goes on for five
Polian said the team won’t sign Mathis, Wayne or Garcon early
because the team doesn’t operate that way. He sounded confident
that they would be Colts in the future.
”We always achieve those number one priorities,” he said.
”The living proof of that is we just signed Peyton and now are
already on to next year.”
As evidence of Wayne’s confidence that the Colts will live up to
their word, he jokingly offered Manning a gift of appreciation.
”Dinner on me, I guess.”
Wayne has 787 career catches for 10,748 yards and 69 touchdowns.
He had a career-high 111 catches last year, earned his fifth
consecutive Pro Bowl bid and was selected to All-Pro first team for
first time in his career.
Wayne said his age, 32, will not be a factor when it comes time
to agree to a new deal.
”They’ve got to put me out, man,” he said. ”Take me out
behind the barn. I feel good. I haven’t felt this good in years. I
feel like 2001 and 2002 Reggie.”
In the short term, Wayne will focus on trying to help his team
get to the Super Bowl, which will be played in Indianapolis. No
team has played in the Super Bowl on its home field.
”Yeah we’ve got a chance to do something that’s never been done
before, but at the same time we will keep our same focus and that
is take care of our division,” he said. ”If we take care of our
division then we are guaranteed to make the playoffs,” he said.
”Once the playoffs come it’s a whole different season.”
Mathis, 30, has been a Pro Bowl selection the past three years.
He led the team with 11 sacks last season and has 74 in his career.
He doesn’t mind going into the season without a deal worked
”When it happens, it happens,” he said.
Garcon, 24, had career highs of 67 receptions for 784 yards and
six touchdowns last season.
Wayne said he is focused on honoring his current contract.
”If it was an issue, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. ”It is
what it is. I’ve got about seven or eight months left on this
contract and that’s what I’m going to do. I guess I’ll wait until
the season is over and figure out what the rest will be.”