REASON 1: They aren't a Super Bowl contender anymore unless they replace Wayne
The Colts and Jim Irsay are looking to win a Super Bowl this year. One does not make in-season trades for players like Trent Richardson if the plan is to build for the future. Problem is, unless the Colts find someone who can replace Wayne's production, they have no shot at contending this year.
If you personally think this team is going to walk into Denver, New England, or Kansas City in January and win with T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and LaVon Brazill as their wide receivers, Brooklyn's got a bridge with your name on it.
Using PFF as a guide, both Heyward-Bey and Hilton have catch percentage rates of 54% and 51%. That's a nice way of saying they drop the football to friggin' much. Both have been terrible in back-to-back games when it comes to drops. After T.Y. Hilton french fried Seattle's secondary in Week 5, he has simply disappeared in games against San Diego and Denver.
REASON 2: There's no one who can place in the slot
Reggie Wayne played 70% of his snaps in the slot, a position he was ideally suited for in Pep Hamilton's offense. Now, the Colts don't have anyone on their active roster who can play that spot.
Please, don't say Hilton. Just... just don't. Hilton's an outside guy at his best stretching the field. Griff Whalen, who is currently on the practice squad, strikes me as a player who can run routes from the slot, but his lack of speed and size limit him as a playmaker.
REASON 3: The only true veteran is Heyward-Bey
Wayne was a 13-year veteran who has played in playoff games and Super Bowls. His mere presence on a practice field or a locker room is a boost to a young receiving corps' confidence. Hilton and Brazill are second-year players. Tight end Coby Fleener is also a second-year guy while Jack Doyle is a rookie.
The next senior receiver after Reggie Wayne is Darrius Heyward-Bey, a five-year veteran.
No offense to Heyward-Bey, who hasn't been bad this year, but he doesn't strike me as leadership material. Maybe I'm just jaded because I see him complaining more about non-calls for pass interference than I do seeing him making actual plays on the field.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said in his Monday press conference last week that Wayne will still be present at meetings and at the facility post-ACL surgery, but that's not the same as someone who can be with the group on the field and in practice. Indianapolis would benefit from someone with true experience. A guy like Anquan Boldin would be absolutely perfect, but San Francisco isn't sending him anywhere. Some have suggested Tampa Bay wideout Vincent Jackson, but I think his insane contract prevents a trade to Indy.
I just can't view this team as a contender this year unless they make a move. If winning right now is so very important to owner Jim Irsay, then a trade for a quality, veteran wide receiver who is comfortable playing in the slot is essential.
Sure, it's possible that a player like Brazill could step up, or perhaps Hilton will return to his Seattle game form. Both are doubtful. The Colts receiving corps lacked consistency even with Wayne. Without him, they're a talented, but inconsistent mess.
Without a trade, this is a one-and-done playoff team, maybe.