Reggie Wayne is one of the most accomplished receivers of his era.
Certainly, Peyton Manning has helped him be so. Certainly, Wayne has helped Manning, a four-time MVP and all-time great, as well.
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reports Manning and Wayne could wind up a free-agent combo deal. I’m sure they’d love to play together more, to be able to pick up where they left off after Wayne’s 111 catches for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns in 2010.
But the suggestion strikes me as somewhat insulting to Wayne.
Barring a franchise tag or a deal with the Colts, both of which seem unlikely, Wayne will become a free agent on March 13. Indications are Manning’s not going to start auditioning for new teams right out of the gate. If his post-neck surgery right arm was going to be ready for throwing sessions so soon, I think we’d be hearing about it.
I don’t picture Wayne reaching free agency, fielding calls from teams and tell them he’s waiting on Manning.
Perhaps a team that needs a receiver and a quarterback courts Wayne heavily right at the start and lands him while telling him its intention is to also get Manning. Even in that scenario, that team can hardly guarantee Wayne it gets Manning.
Wayne stands on his own merits. He can run great routes and catch passes in the clutch from another quarterback, and I expect plenty of teams will be happy to have him for a few years to do so.
He’s not going to be a big downfield threat. His average per catch has been less than 13 yards for the past three seasons. But he knows coverages and how to find spaces in them, whether he’s with Manning or not.