MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Colts announced Friday they will not re-sign veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne, one of the most revered players in franchise history.
The longtime standout has been part of a club-record 143 wins and ranks second in franchise history in receptions (1,070), yards receiving (14,345) and touchdown catches (80). He was Indy’s first-round draft pick in 2001 and has never played for another team. But after tearing the ACL in his right knee in October 2013 and injuring his left elbow in October 2014, Wayne didn’t look the same.
Wayne will become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.
General manager Ryan Grigson called Wayne the “catalyst” to the Colts’ turnaround. Team owner Jim Irsay tweeted that it was a “sad day in Colts Nation,” but said the decision was made in the “best interests of the team.”
“Reggie is one of the greatest men to ever wear the horseshoe, and we have been blessed to watch him play for the past 14 years,” Irsay said in a statement.
Indianapolis has made a series of wrenching decisions over the past few seasons to overhaul its aging roster.
In 2012, the Colts released Peyton Manning to clear the way for young quarterback Andrew Luck. They followed that by cutting several other fan favorites, such as linebacker Gary Brackett. They let center Jeff Saturday leave in free agency that March, too. In 2013, Indy announced it would not re-sign Dwight Freeney, who was then the franchise’s career sacks leader.
Wayne opted to return in 2012, giving Indy a hometown discount to help the team rebuild rather than taking a bigger payday in free agency. The Colts were happy to have him.
He played in a franchise-record 211 games and set an NFL record for most consecutive games with three or more receptions. He is seventh on the NFL’s career list for receptions and is eighth in receiving yards.
Grigson and Pagano, who was one of Wayne’s coaches in college, have often lauded Wayne for not only his presence on the field but how he has helped the young receivers in the team meeting rooms.
“He is the epitome of what a coach looks for in a player,” Pagano said. “Hard work, dedication, and sacrifice are just a few ways I would describe him. He encompasses everything that is right about this game, on and off the field. I am so grateful I had the chance to coach Reggie again when I arrived in 2012.”
Wayne set the Colts’ single-game record for receptions (15) in 2010 and caught a TD pass in the Colts’ Super Bowl win over Chicago.
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