Indianapolis Colts Free Agency: Reggie Wayne Should Have Been Franchise Tagged

Matt MadsenCorrespondent IIMarch 6, 2012

Indianapolis Colts Free Agency: Reggie Wayne Should Have Been Franchise Tagged

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    When the NFL's deadline for franchise tags passed today, the Indianapolis Colts slapped it on defensive end Robert Mathis. They elected not to use it on veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, as well as receiver Pierre Garcon.

    What a mistake.

    There a variety of reasons that this was a terrible gaffe by management, and we will take a look at a few of them here.

Robert Mathis Was Signed to a New Deal Within Hours

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    The franchise tag is often used by NFL teams who wish to ink their stars to long-term deals, but are afraid they won't be able to come to terms before the start of the new league year.

    When news first came out about Mathis being tagged, presumably it was for the same reason.

    But within hours, Mathis agreed to a four-year contract extension worth up to $36 million.

    What?

    The New Orleans Saints franchised Drew Brees because the sides weren't close to an agreement. It's likely they wouldn't have been able to agree before the beginning of the new league year, March 13.

    But if the Colts only needed an hour or two to finalize the deal with Mathis, why the tag?

    It could've been better utilized elsewhere.

Lack of Wide Receiver Depth

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    Pierre Garcon has already rejected a five-year contract extension from the Colts, likely waiting to see where the Peyton Manning situation goes.

    Anthony Gonzales is a free agent, and the Colts aren't exactly going to be chomping at the bit to re-sign him. He has five catches in the last three years. Not exactly impressive.

    And Reggie Wayne appears to be on the outs, too. Having not been franchised, Wayne will likely cost too much for the Colts to retain, especially after the new Mathis deal.

    There's no reason to believe he'd make a decision before March 8 anyway, considering he has widely been assumed to follow Peyton Manning wherever he ends up.

    If these three make free-agency exits, the Colts will be left with only two signed receivers with NFL experience. Austin Collie and Blair White.

    Not ideal.

Veteran Leadership on Offense

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    With the impending exodus of free agents, particularly on offense, the Indianapolis Colts will be forced to field an extremely young squad next year.

    They will likely be led by a rookie quarterback. Whether its Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, the Colts will struggle to find a leader on offense, and will end up looking lost at times.

    Probably more often than not.

    A rookie quarterback can benefit greatly from an experienced, calming presence on the receiving end. A go-to guy when everything else is falling apart.

    Reggie Wayne could've been that guy. Instead, the Colts will probably only have Dallas Clark, who has struggled to stay on the field the last two seasons.

    It could get ugly.

To Create a Sense of Continuity for the Fans

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    Fans don't like to be jerked around by their teams.

    They don't like hearing that their quarterback is getting cut and their entire offense is right behind him.

    People get attached to their favorite players and buy their jerseys. They spend hundreds on memorabilia because they feel connected to the players who represent their favorite franchises.

    Losing multiple star players is not good for the franchise because it creates a disconnect for the fans.

    Next season, when a new quarterback is throwing to new receivers, fans are going to have less interest for a while.

    Especially when the Colts lose.

    "Who the heck is G. Childs?"

    "Why can't that guy Rainey catch the ball?"

    "Where's Peyton?"

    Where indeed.