Free-agent scouting report: Colts WR Reggie Wayne

Posted Feb. 28, 2012 @ 9:39 a.m.
Posted By Arthur Arkush

This is the 19th in a series of scouting reports on key players who are expected to become free agents March 13, unless they are re-signed or franchised before then.

News: The Colts are in rebuilding mode, and it appears that one of their all-time greats, WR Reggie Wayne, won't fit into the franchise's plans moving forward. Although owner Jim Irsay and new GM Ryan Grigson have indicated they would like to re-sign Wayne, reading between the lines it seems there won't be a spot on a roster that's expected to be infused with youth for a receiver who turns 34 in November. Like most of the Colts' other skill-position players, Wayne's production dipped significantly in 2011 without QB Peyton Manning. Wayne's catches (75), receiving yards (960) and TDs (four) were the lowest since '03.

Notes: Wayne, a five-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro, was drafted 30th overall in 2001 out of the University of Miami. His 11,708 receiving yards rank 22nd in NFL history. His 862 receptions are tied for 15th all time. Since 2004, no NFL receiver has caught more passes or recorded more receiving yards than Wayne.

Shortly following the acquisition of QB Kerry Collins, Wayne was very outspoken that Curtis Painter, not Collins, should start in place of Manning. Wayne's remarks were not meant to be divisive, and although Painter played poorly, he provided marked improvement over Collins once entering the starting lineup in Week Four.

If Wayne has played his last snap with a horseshoe on his helmet, he gave Colts fans a memorable send-off in his final home game in Week 16. Trailing by four points with less than two minutes remaining, Wayne spearheaded the Colts' rally over the rival Texans that handed the division champs just their fifth loss of the season. Wayne caught the game-winning TD, a one-yard fade from QB Dan Orlovsky over Texans CB Kareem Jackson in the final seconds. Wayne also hauled in a 34-yard completion on 3rd-and-7 to keep the final drive alive. He ended the day with eight catches for 106 yards and one TD, providing an exclamation point on a terrific Colts career.

Positives: Wayne boasts good athleticism, is a precise route runner and has soft hands — he plucks balls effortlessly. He works all areas of the field, and is dangerous after the catch. He is tough and highly competitive and extremely durable (has made 144 consecutive starts, not missing a game since joining the starting lineup in 2003) — a pillar of consistency. He also is a very good blocker.

Negatives: He was never a burner and seems to have lost a step, and seems to be on the downside of his career. He's not overly physical. He had the benefit of working with a Hall of Fame QB his entire career and his production waned without Manning.

Risk factor: Wayne is looking to cash in on one more megadeal and definitely will have suitors, though it is important to take him for what he is at this point: a great No. 2 receiver, no longer ideally suited to be a team's go-to guy. Although his age could cause concern for some teams, he has proven to be very durable and his intense offseason training regimen should give teams confidence that he can produce at a high level for a few more seasons.