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Colts Agree To Terms With Wayne; Unlikely To Tag James...
As insider Jay Glazer initially reported it: "The free-agency period has yet to begin but one potential free agent has already hit for a big payday."

This after the Colts agreed to terms with receiver Reggie Wayne this afternoon on a six-year deal worth nearly $40 million including $13.5 million in bonus money. Wayne was slated to become an unrestricted free agent and as Glazer suggested, his signing now weakens an already extremely weak receiver free agent class.

While the contract terms have been agreed upon by both sides Wayne has not yet officially signed and should as soon as the NFL approves the deal.

Wayne had 83 catches this past season for 1,055 yards and five touchdowns in the Colts' high-powered attack. The new contract would make him the third highest-paid receiver in the NFL behind teammate Marvin Harrison and Randy Moss.

The new deal also means the Colts' potent three-wideout group of Harrison, Wayne and Brandon Stokley remains intact.

A first-round pick in the 2001 draft, he has developed into one of the NFL's top No. 2 wide receivers.

Unlike many No. 2 wideouts in the past, who signed lucrative deals with new teams in free agency and then flopped, senior writer Len Pasquarelli noted this afternoon that Wayne acknowledged during the season that it might be in his best interests to stay with the Colts, and one of the NFL's premier passing offenses, if amenable contract terms could be reached.

The 27-year old Wayne has appeared in 77 games and started 64 of them. He has 304 receptions for 4,164 yards and 28 touchdowns. Despite his solid 2005 effort, some observers feel his best season was in 2004, when he had 77 receptions for 1,210 yards and 12 touchdowns. ...

Meanwhile, as noted in a previous article, team president and general manager Bill Polian had reiterated several times in recent weeks that the club would not lose Wayne in free agency. Had the parties not reached this agreement, the Colts almost certainly would have applied the franchise tag to Wayne, at a cost of $6.172 million.

Pasquarelli reminded readers this afternoon that securing Wayne means that Indianapolis still has the franchise marker available, and could use it to keep tailback Edgerrin James, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency.

The veteran tailback has repeatedly said he is prepared to play elsewhere in 2006.

"I don't see nothing happening," he said during Super Bowl week. "You can read between the lines and from the things I'm hearing, nothing's going to happen.

"And that's crazy, man. I'm part of the solution, I'm not part of the problem. Crazy, man."

James added: "Maybe I'll get to a situation where somebody appreciates me. I'm going to always be a ballplayer. You know I've got game. You can't knock what I do. ..."

In 2005, James ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing with 1,506 yards. It was his fourth 1,500-yard season, enabling him to join Barry Sanders (five), Eric Dickerson (four) and Walter Payton (four) as the only players in NFL history with at least four 1,500-yard campaigns.

The Colts have until Thursday to decide if they want to apply the franchise designation to any of their pending unrestricted free agents.

Both Glazer and Pasquarelli, however, expressed doubts about the team actually franchising James for a second year in a row because of the cap ramifications involved. ...

Keep an eye on the News & Views section of this site for more on James as the week progresses.