NFL Rumors: Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark Could Reunite in 2012

Jessica MarieCorrespondent IIMarch 10, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01: Tight end Dallas Clark #44 of the Indianapolis Colts grabs a warmup pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars January 1, 2012 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Peyton Manning and his once-upon-a-time favorite target, Dallas Clark, could wind up back together again in 2012.

Manning was released by the Colts this week (in case you haven't heard), and Clark is an unrestricted free agent—and though the bulk of the media attention has been focused on the idea that the team that signs Manning is likely to be the team that lands wide receiver Reggie Wayne as well, the same could be said for Clark.

The good news with regards to Clark is that the tight end is certainly going to be affordable. The bad news is there's a reason for that.

Clark will be 33 by the time training camp rolls around this summer, and his production has declined substantially over the last two seasons. In 2010, he played in just six games after suffering a wrist injury in late October, and in 2011, he was limited by a leg injury, playing in just 11 games and snatching 34 receptions for 352 yards and two touchdowns.

Compare that with where he was in 2009, when he hit 100 receptions for the first time in his career and racked up 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns.

To be fair, Clark's production in 2011 has to be taken with a grain of salt. The Colts were the NFL's worst team and were playing with a committee of newbie quarterbacks.

It's obvious that as Clark is getting older, his injuries are becoming a more and more serious liability, but perhaps, being back on the gridiron with his old partner in crime will help restore him to his former glory. He's comfortable with Manning, and more importantly, Manning is comfortable with him. They can make each other better.

Clark isn't going to make a big dent in any team's payroll, and he still has something left in the tank. His injuries haven't been career-threatening, and though his production is on the decline, he's not ancient.

He's a smart risk worth taking—and if Manning is involved, it's even smarter.