Reggie Wayne is on his way out. Who's taking his place?
The Colts enter this offseason with a receiving core that has more potential than most, if not all, receiving cores in the NFL. They have a veteran in Reggie Wayne and a slew of young talent in T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill. Donnie Avery is meh to me. He's 28 and just starting to be productive, however, he and Luck click.
Many would argue that the Colts don't need to be picking up any receivers this offseason. However, you don't ignore a free agent class of wide receivers when it's this full of elite talent.
There's zero downside to signing another elite player alongside Wayne. There's zero downside to giving those young guys another star to learn from and idolize. Wayne has one, maybe two good years, left in him. The Colts need to be thinking about a post-Wayne wide receiving core, and there isn't going to be a better free agent class than this one for a long, long time.
Let's talk wide receivers.
When you consider the quarterback situation in Kansas City, what Bowe has been able to accomplish is nothing short of incredible. Much like Welker, Bowe came into Kansas City with a serious pass-dropping problem, having dropped an egregious 16 in '08. However, he had corrective surgery on his eyes, and that seemed to solve the issue. He had six drops this past season, which is the best for him in five years.
On the field, his accomplishments have been amazing, catching passes for a little over 800 yards in a season where Kansas City QB's passed for just 2,937 yards, and he scored three of the eight TD's they threw. There's a lot of talk throughout the league regarding Bowe's character, and reasons a lot of front offices are scared to touch him. However, if he's produced and been well-behaved in a place like Kansas City, I can't imagine him causing troubles for an organization that is infinitely more successful.
He's also just 28 years old, so he'd be around for a good amount of time after Reggie Wayne departs. He's capable of being a No. 1 guy.
If Amendola wasn't built like a fifteen year old, he'd be one of the leagues best receivers and a lot more expensive than the Colts could afford. The Rams were worlds better when he was on the field, and he produces over the middle in a way only inferior to Wes Welker (we'll address him shortly). Amendola led Rams receivers this season by more than a dozen, despite playing less than 100+ snaps than two of his teammates. How is he different than Welker? His hands. Amendola has incredibly impressive hands, especially on inside routes where passes are coming at him quick. He had just one drop in over 75 targets this past season when he lined up in the slot. That's good for fifth in the NFL, and none of the four in front of him had more passes thrown their way.
As far as a perimeter threat is concerned, Amendola isn't your guy, but if you are looking for a reliable slot option, Amendola is worth your consideration, albeit he does have durability issues.
Everything fell apart for Mike Wallace over the past year. He held out for a better deal in the 2012 offseason, and Pittsburgh gave his money to Antonio Brown instead. In the Steelers new, more conservative offense, Wallace wasn't half the threat he was in past years, and his number showed for it. Wallace has enough deep speed to go up against any corner in the league, and when he wants to, he can run the top off of a defense better than any other receiver, but he's never been able to run a complete route tree, and he's incredibly limited when it comes to the number of routes he can effectively run.
To be fair, teams value speed and game-breaking ability, and Wallace does have enough in his toolshed to be an effective weapon against all levels of defense, even if he isn't the complete package. He's just 26, and a healthy contract could keep him around long after Wayne is gone.
Arguably the best free agent wide receiver available, Jennings is coming off some injury concerns. He's got serious speed and is one of the most fluid route runners in the NFL. He can be effective both in the slot and out wide, and there isn't a route in the tree the guy can't run. While a few of the above guys are tailored to fit certain offensive systems, Jennings is a chameleon. There isn't a system in which he can't be effective.
His 2012 campaign was crippled by injury, however, in 2011, Aaron Rodgers had a 124.0 passer rating when targeting Jennings, and he snagged nine TD's. Not to mention: he'd be fantastic pairing up with Luck. Luck's already shown he's mature for how long he's been in the league, but there's nothing wrong with bringing in a guy who's played with a former MVP.
If the Colts can get over his injury history, he could be a marquee receiver. Fast, slick and efficient with zero character questions, it makes a lot of sense.
Alright, let me address this Wes Welker thing.
To put it simply: the Colts signing Welker would be nothing short of idiotic. He's a slot receiver, whereas the Colts should be looking for someone to fill Wayne's shoes. He's expensive, and the Colts need to be spending the big bucks on a few other positions. He's 31 (32 when the season starts), meaning he's got three, maybe four quality years left when the Colts are looking for someone to, again, fill Reggie Wayne's shoes. All in all, it makes absolutely zero sense, and I can't understand why anyo
Indy, I believe, is missing one piece to a wide receiving core than can run with any in the NFL. T.Y., Avery and Wayne were fantastic last season for their new QB, and two of the three should be getting better. With Wayne on his way out the door within the next two years, signing a marquee WR should be high on the Indianapolis Colts priority list. With so many great guys available, there's no reason for Grigson and Co. not to take advantage.