Peyton Manning is no longer the Indianapolis Colts quarterback. Keep the television channel away from ESPN, because all that will run from now until he's signed are rumors about where Manning will end up.
A lesser-followed story to this point in the offseason is the status of veteran receiver Reggie Wayne. Long before Manning's bonus was declined, Wayne was already an unrestricted free agent.
Wayne has been a favorite receiver of Manning ever since the retirement of the great Marvin Harrison prior to the 2009 season. In 2009 and 2010, Wayne had over 1,000 receiving yards and 100 receptions, including a double-digit touchdown performance in 2009 with Manning at the helm.
Wayne reportedly has had no contact with Indianapolis since the end of the 2011 season. Even though Pierre Garcon is also likely to leave the Colts, he has at least had communication with the organization prior to turning down a multi-year contract offer.
In fact, there has been little news of Wayne having either initiated contact with or having been contacted by another NFL team. Even at Wayne's age (33) he put up numbers indicative of a top receiver with the unimpressive trio of Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky under center for Indianapolis in 2011.
With the re-emergence of Randy Moss in an already-overpopulated free-agent pool this offseason—which includes the likes of Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston and Brandon Lloyd—Wayne could have trouble finding a team willing to pay him for the few years of quality performance remaining in his career.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, with a multitude of quality receivers on the market who will come cheaper than Wayne.
Wayne has spent his career with Indianapolis, and he could end up re-signing with the organization and playing out his career with a new quarterback (likely Andrew Luck). However, after over a month where Indianapolis made it clear re-signing Garcon is more of a priority, Wayne will probably look elsewhere for employment.
Where Wayne decides to start looking brings about a question—what would make Manning happier with a new team than having one of his most trusted receivers on the same team?
Wayne has seven 1,000-yard seasons with Manning under center, and a reunion wherever Manning lands would benefit both players and the team itself.
Manning and Wayne are a dominant force when paired, and playing together would mean the usual period of developing chemistry between passer and receiver would be nonexistent. This would allow Manning to get to know his other receivers better while play on the field suffers little setback from the unfamiliar personnel around Manning.
When the time comes for Wayne to pick a team this offseason, it would not be surprising if he passes up receiver-needy teams like the New York Jets and the Washington Redskins for wherever Manning lands.
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