Colts may be willing to part with Wayne

BY Alex Marvez • February 23, 2012

He is no longer their team president, but Bill Polian has a hunch about the Indianapolis Colts’ top offseason priorities pertaining to their own potential free agents.

Polian said he expects trying to re-sign wide receiver Pierre Garcon and defensive end Robert Mathis to top the list. Polian also believes wide receiver Reggie Wayne will be allowed to test the market.

If Wayne leaves, Polian wouldn’t be surprised if there is a reunion with Peyton Manning on another team should the Colts cut ties with their future Hall of Fame quarterback as expected.

“(Wayne) has a brilliant football mind,” Polian said Thursday morning while co-hosting with me on Sirius XM NFL Radio at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He understands the games, the nuances of coverage, how to get open, the people he’s playing against and he has an incredible relationship with Peyton Manning in terms of a symbiosis between the two.

“If Peyton Manning changes clubs, I think he would recommend to anyone they go to that they consider Reggie Wayne.”

Polian mentioned one specific team particular that he believes would benefit from Wayne’s services – the New York Jets.

“Reggie doesn’t run with as much speed and explosion as he once did but he has phenomenal hands,” said Polian, who made Wayne a 2001 first-round draft pick when working as the Colts’ general manager. “He really can set up defensive backs. When you talk about a team, for example, like the Jets that have plenty of speed but not enough people who can really get open and make plays in clutch situations, particularly from a hands standpoint, Reggie would be a perfect fit there.”

Wayne is one of the most prolific wide receivers in Colts history with 862 catches for 11,708 yards and 73 touchdowns in 11 seasons. Wayne was voted to five Pro Bowls (2006 to 2010) but he also turns 34 in November. That may temper free-agent interest.

For a Colts team facing salary-cap issues in the process of rebuilding, re-signing Wayne may not be in the cards.

“I think Reggie will at least be allowed to go out and test the waters,” said Polian, who was involved with Indianapolis’ planning for the 2012 offseason before his firing in early January. “Now, will Reggie get something that he likes? I don’t know.

“Reggie is an institution in Indianapolis. It would be a big shock to have him leave but it may well be because this is a business and he has to maximize his earning power because he’s closer to the end of his career than the beginning. It may well be that someone has more cap room or money than the Colts can offer him. They’ve very tight on the cap this year. That will clean up markedly next year, but this year is a tough year.”

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