The Colts, who sit atop the AFC South with an 8-4 record, can clinch their third playoff appearance in as many years with a win against the Browns on Sunday (the Texans must also lose to the Jaguars). Regardless of whether Indianapolis clinches this week, the club has a 96.3% of earning a postseason berth (per Football Outsiders), meaning that Reggie Wayne, the longest-tenured Colt, will likely be making the playoffs for the 12th time in his career. Given that level of success, it’s unsurprising that the veteran receiver wants to finish his career as a Colt. “Absolutely. Nobody else,” Wayne told Mike Chappell of RTV6 (via Twitter) when asked if he would only play for Indianapolis. “Put a stamp on it. Stamp it: Colt for life.”
As Chappell writes in a full article, it’s not a given that Wayne will play in 2015 — retirement certainly seems to be on the table for the 36-year-old. “It’s tough, it really is,” said Wayne, citing family commitments as a reason why he could leave the NFL. “You have to decide if you want to make that sacrifice again. A lot goes into it.” For his career, Wayne, a first-round pick in 2001, has caught 1,060 passes for 14,202 yards and 82 touchdowns. He is currently eighth all-time in receiving yards — a decent 2015 could allow him to move to fourth or fifth on that list, while sticking around for two more seasons could lead to him pass Terrell Owens for second all-time, behind only Jerry Rice.
This season, Wayne’s production has slowed, though that’s to be expected from a veteran receiver. He’s caught 54 balls for 636 yards, and scored twice, while grading as just the 69th-best pass-catcher in the league among 111 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). While he’s clearly ceded the Colts’ No. 1 receiver role to T.Y. Hilton, Wayne actually outpaces Hilton in terms of percentage of offensive snaps played (77.2%-76.9%).
Wayne is playing under the final year of his contract, earning a base salary of $4MM and counting $6.167MM against Indy’s cap. Though he’s dealt with injuries in recent campaigns — he missed half of 2013 after tearing his ACL, and has dealt with an elbow ailment this season — I’d guess that the Colts would be happy to retain him in 2015, even if the team believes he’s lost a few steps. It’s difficult to measure the importance of soft factors, but with young pass-catchers like Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Dwayne Allen, and Coby Fleener on its roster, the club would surely reap the benefits of employing a veteran such as Wayne.