News & Info/Headlines
In a press release tweeted out by owner Jim Irsay on Friday, the team announced that Wayne, 36, one of the greatest players in franchise history, will not be returning to the club in 2015.
"Everyone knows the greatness and history associated with number 87," general manager Ryan Grigson said in the release. "He truly is one of a small handful of players who really define the Colts as an organization. He was already a Hall of Famer in the making when Chuck and I arrived in Indianapolis in 2012, but no one has contributed more, on the field and in this building, to our turnaround, our continued growth, and our overall success since then.
"Reggie was the catalyst that sparked and ignited the team during our comeback against Green Bay in 2012. His gritty performance that day and that entire challenging season infused us all with the belief we could overcome any obstacle. His dedication and the example he set are second to none. We wish him nothing but the best in whatever new endeavor he pursues."
As NFL.com notes, Wayne, the NFL's active leader in receptions, was unsure of his plans heading into 2015. He recently underwent triceps surgery as well, which could have forced the Colts' hand. The release is unclear on whether Wayne will attempt to play this year for another team.
Wayne has not addressed his future since the team's season-ending playoff loss to the Patriots, when he replied to questions about his future by saying, "I haven't thought about that. We just lost."
But considering Wayne had no receptions and wasn't targeted one time by quarterback Andrew Luck in the franchise's biggest game since playing in the AFC Championship Game in 2009 gave us a hint at where things were headed. Indeed, the same thing had happened a week before against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round.
As ESPN.com's Mike Wells put it, "For as good as his hands -- and they're some of the best of all time -- Wayne no longer had the ability to beat defenders and get open for Luck on a regular basis after a Hall of Fame career featuring 1,070 receptions, 14,345 yards and 82 touchdowns."
Should he retire, he'd finish seventh on the NFL's all-time receptions list, just behind Terrell Owens.
This was a business decision, and the Colts made the right decision to not re-sign Wayne, even if the decision wasn't mutual. The Colts have Super Bowl aspirations next season and they know they have to put a better supporting cast around Luck and receiver T.Y. Hilton.
Although moving on makes sense in terms of on-field ability and with the presence of young talent like Hilton and Donte Moncrief, Wells contends "things won't be the same inside the Colts organization without Wayne. He set the example for young players on what it takes to be successful -- from how he ran his routes in practice, to spending extra time on the Jugs machine making every kind of catch imaginable, to his professionalism inside the locker room."
We'll all be waiting to see if Wayne decides to carry that aspect of his game over to another franchise, or decides it's time to move past his NFL playing days.