Blog Entry

Manning could return to IND but what about Wayne?

Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:26 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 11:40 pm
Indy owner Jim Irsay sounds like Peyton remains in the team's future, but what about Reggie? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Huge win for Indianapolis Thursday night (their second in a row!), but perhaps the biggest news to come from the Texans-Colts get-together took place before the game when Colts owner Jim Irsay told NFL Network that he couldn’t envision a situation in which Peyton Manning would play anywhere but Indianapolis unless he wasn’t able to play at all.

"I think the situation is if he's back and he's healthy, I see him coming back and playing here," Irsay said in an interview with Rich Eisen. "I think the hope is that his health is in the position where he could return again. That remains uncertain and that's something that's first and foremost on my mind."

A quick timeline of events:

* May 23, 2011: Manning has neck surgery (bulging disk)
* July 30, 2011: Signed to 5-year, $90 million contract
* September 8, 2011: Manning has spinal fusion surgery
* March 8, 2012: $28 million option bonus due

And it’s that March 8 deadline that has led to speculation that the Colts could either cut or trade Manning (which led to speculation that the Redskins would be interested).

"I don't see that being an issue," Irsay said. "I paid him $26 million this season and he didn't play and I knew it was an iffy situation. If he's healthy and he can play, he'll be back here."

But even if Manning’s healthy, that won’t preclude Irsay from taking a quarterback in April’s draft.

“The draft will be what the draft is — there’s a lot of situations that can unfold from here,” Irsay said. “If there’s a great young quarterback there, we wouldn’t hesitate to take him.”

(We suspect that would be the case no matter what the Redskins might be willing to give up.)

But Manning isn’t the only Colts veteran whose future is uncertain. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne, the team’s 2001 first-round pick, is in the last year of his contract. He’s been looking for a new deal since the summer, but the team asked for patience in August and he’s said all the right things since.

Earlier in the week, Wayne acknowledged that Thursday's game could be his last at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"I am well aware of that and I’ve come to the conclusion that in every athlete’s career they are going to be faced with this decision at some point in time, whether it is a long career or a short career," Wayne said in comments posted on the Colts website.

For an idea of just how valuable Wayne has been during his career, consider this: in his 10 seasons with Manning prior to 2011, Wayne has averaged 79 receptions for 1,075 yards and seven touchdowns. From 2006-2010, those numbers jump to 99, 1,319, and 8. And while his numbers are down in 2011, he did grab the game-winner against Houston Thursday.

Still, there’s no guarantee that Indy brings him back, especially if Manning’s future remains in doubt heading into this offseason.

And that leads us to this: if Wayne doesn’t return to Indianapolis, where might he end up in 2012?

A list of possible destinations:

1. New England Patriots. Consider it payback for Adam Vinatieri, but more importantly, it’ll give Tom Brady the deep threat Chad Ochocinco never developed into. Wayne’s game is built on precise route-running, which is imperative in Peyton Manning’s offense (and Brady's). And it’s something Ochocinco never had to worry about in Cincinnati.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars. A team so desperate for playmakers at wide receiver that they’re signing guys off the street. Of course, the Jags have plenty to sort out in the coming months, starting with finding a head coach and making sure that Blaine Gabbert really is Jacksonville’s quarterback of the future. That said, Shahid Kahn probably doesn’t have enough money to convince Wayne to come to Florida.

3. New York Jets. Rex Ryan has yet to meet a veteran with a nice resume that he wasn’t interested in bringing to New York (see: Holmes, Burress, and even Derrick Mason for a look-see earlier this season). Maybe Wayne’s route-running will rub off on the other wideouts and mask some of Mark Sanchez’s struggles with accuracy.

4. San Francisco 49ers. Braylon Edwards has been underwhelming and Michael Crabtree could use a proven veteran to play opposite him while pushing him to get better. But if Wayne wasn’t crazy about catching passes from Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky, he might not want to play with Alex Smith, either. Smith is clearly better than either of the Colts’ backups, but San Francisco’s offense is built on west coast principles, the running game and the defense. Then again, winning fixes a lot.

5. St. Louis Rams. Another team in dire need of skill position players. Unlike Jacksonville, Sam Bradford has proven he can play in the NFL, it’s just that he and almost everybody else on the roster was beset with injuries in 2011.

Ultimately, we expect Wayne to stay in Indy, especially if Manning’s back in 2012 and beyond.

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Since: Dec 23, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:14 am
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Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: December 23, 2011 9:43 am

Manning could return to IND but what about Wayne?

In the New England scenario, Wilson says Wayne would give the Pats a deep threat. Huh? Wayne isn't a deep threat now and hasn't been for a while. He's a possesion receiver. He runs great routes, has great hands, and is true professional, but a deep threat?

Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:21 am

Manning could return to IND but what about Wayne?

Why is no one saying the obvious? Manning - is done. His numbers were already declining, getting sacked more than ever and throwing interceptions. Is that the O-lines fault? Yes but do you think a year off of football and getting a year older after neck surgeries is going to make things better? No. Indy has been the modle NFL team for over a decade. I hope they realize they have a chance here to get a fresh start and make this a winning team again. Many veterans that aren't worth their salt can be cut, Manning traded to washington or whoever wants to buy - Imagine the price for manning. You could probably have the best draft in history. Wayne? He's great. Still a performer and I think he will stick around even if manning gets traded - If youre starting a rookie QB a wideout like wayne would speed his progress into the NFL. Sign him to a 3 year contract at a fair price and it will work with or without manning. No doubt in my mind. Chicago seems like a nice fit for him too and I think if he goes anywhere it will probably be chicago.

Since: Jul 3, 2007
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:31 am

Manning could return to IND but what about Wayne?

The last statement of this blog is really the only one you need to know. If Manning is back, Wayne will be back. Simple as that.

Since: Dec 23, 2011
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:31 am

Manning could return to IND but what about Wayne?

The Patriot suggestion is great and somewhat amusing.  I can see no circumstance where he would go to the Jags or Rams unless he gets overpaid as they are not superbowl contenders in any way next year.  I also do not see him going to the Jets while Ryan remains the coach (Dungy to Ryan would be just a confounding change).

The two teams that make a lot of sense to me are the Bears and the Lions (I just contradicted my Ryan comment).  If Cutler returns the Bears need a solid number one guy and they might find it in Wayne.  The Lions have Megatron and as his career ebbs Wayne could become the best number two reciever in the NFL much like he was when he played with Harrison many years ago.

Since: Jan 2, 2010
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:23 am

Manning could return to IND but what about Wayne?

1st anyone who thinks Tebow won't be opening day starter next year is an idiot. Elway/Fox have no choice. He has won games and the denver fans, he will sell tickets and jeserys ect, but his teammates have bought in. I don't know if he survives 2012 but he will be the starter next september.

2nd Wayne will be a colt in 2012. Manning will be back and if im wayne I'm taking my chances with the guy who got me to 2 SB's and a ring. Wayne still has gas left. If he were to go i don't see him playing for anyone but a contender on the Afc side.NE, BAL, SD, ect

Since: Jan 8, 2010
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:05 am

Manning could return to IND but what about Wayne?

 and with Tebow learning how to throw, Wayne would be an outstanding target, running precise routes

Wayne might run precise routes, but Tebow's had more than a decade to become a precise thrower, and it hasn't happened.  What Tebow needs is athletes; players who can jump and have legs for arms.

You're also making the assumption that Tebow remains the starter next year.  No one's committed to that yet in Denver, my friend.   

Since: Oct 18, 2009
Posted on: December 23, 2011 12:55 am
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