While it's more speculation than rumor at this point, ESPN NFL report Adam Schefter suggested on SportsCenter that the Indianapolis Colts should trade wide receiver Reggie Wayne to the Buffalo Bills and defensive end Robert Mathis to the New York Jets for a pair of fourth-round picks.
Those trades would certainly make sense from the perspectives of Buffalo and New York since both teams are in the thick of the playoff race, but it would severely cripple the Colts both in the present and the near future.
At 0-5 the Colts clearly have little to no chance of turning their season around at this point, but one bad year is no reason to mortgage future seasons. Besides the injury to legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, the Colts' roster is largely the same as it has been for the past few years.
The argument can be made the the core is getting older and in decline, but I view it more as a case of Manning being absolutely essential to the success of the team. By that I mean that no player in the NFL means more to his team than Manning does to the Colts.
With this very same roster last season, Manning led the Colts to a 10-6 record and their seventh NFC South title in eight years. I don't want to speculate on how Manning's neck injury will affect his play moving forward, but if he can be close to the quarterback he was prior to getting injured, then he can easily lead this team back to the postseason in 2012.
I think trading Wayne, Mathis or both would be little more than a panic move for the Colts and it would help cement their status as favorites in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, and that in and of itself raises another issue.
As much as Indianapolis' front office may want Luck, drafting him would open up a huge can of worms from Manning's perspective. Provided Manning is completely healthy come next season, he will unquestionably be the Colts' starting quarterback.
Drafting Luck would mean that the Colts would be sitting their No. 1 pick on the bench for his entire first season and likely more considering the fact that the Colts signed Manning to a lucrative five-year contract prior to the season.
Bringing in Luck would be an indictment of Manning in a way because it would basically be a way of telling him that his days are nearly numbered. Whether it's true or not, I highly doubt that Manning feels that way. He'll certainly want the Colts to draft a player who can help immediately.
What should the Indianapolis Colts do?
With all that said, the Colts would be better off keeping their veterans like Wayne and Mathis and doing the best they can to avoid getting the No. 1 overall pick. As long as Manning is healthy, this team probably has one or two more playoff appearances in it.
Wayne has been integral to Manning's success for many years and Mathis forms one of the league's best pass rushes with Dwight Freeney. If they're both out of the picture, then the Colts are essentially turning their back on the Peyton Manning era and looking ahead to the age of Andrew Luck.