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

long-term beneficiaries.

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

team.”

Wayne said Manning’s decision was symbolic of what the Colts are

about.

”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

that.”

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

Adam Vinatieri.

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

more years.”

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

out.

”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.”