The Colts resigned veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne yesterday in a move that shocked many people. Just days after releasing several key stars, the Colts signing of Wayne appeared to be a slight course reversal for a franchise intent on a massive rebuilding project.
Why would the Colts resign Wayne?
Here are five simple reasons.
1. They have to field a team in 2012. At some point, you have to have warm bodies on the field. After Pierre Garcon signed an insane contract with Washington, the Colts were left scrambling. They were going to have spend money on a free agent wide receiver. There’s no way to fill out the roster just with the draft and undrafted players. If they have to sign someone, Wayne is in the category of guy they could afford.
2. The money was right. If the numbers are to be believed, Wayne signed a 3 year $17 million deal with $7 up front. That means he’ll probably count $5 million against the 2012 cap. Even if he’s cut at the end of the year, the hit will only be about $4.6 million next year. In other words, for about $5 million a year for two years, Colts get Wayne. It’s hard to get a free agent of any quality for less.
3. Reward good behavior come contract time. Remember how the Colts never had a hold out for the past decade? That’s because Marshall Faulk was dealt when he threatened one. Remember how Mathis and Wayne played nice and came to camp on time? When you are rebuilding a team, it pays to have vets in the locker room to tell the young guys to stay in line, shut up, and they’ll get paid. Don’t be surprised if resigning Mathis and Wayne pays off down the road. The locker room benefits of having Reggie Wayne around are innumerable. He actively wanted to play in Indy and rebuild the team. That counts for something.
4. Wayne still has great hands. He’s just a possession receiver at this point, but he only dropped two passes last year. With a young QB, you want to give him someone he can trust to be in the right place and catch the ball. Wayne isn’t an elite guy any more, but he does have some football value.
5. Throw the fans a bone. Hey, Reggie Wayne is connection to the past, and that’s not a bad thing. Fans need someone to root for next year. You don’t sign a guy to please fans, obviously. But if you are choosing among a similar group of wideouts, you might as well focus on someone the fans care about. For $5 million+ a year, the Colts weren’t getting an elite guy. Getting an elite name in Colts history helps ease the sting of the past week.