The Indianapolis Colts lost 45-7 in embarrassing fashion to the New England Patriots on Sunday in the AFC Championship game, and there are a lot of story lines emerging from the game when it comes to how the team will look next year and what changes might be made. One of the most notable of those story lines is the possibility that Sunday's loss was the last career game for two notable Colts players in wide receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive end Cory Redding.
The one we've been talking about for most of the season has been whether or not Reggie Wayne, a likely future Hall of Famer, would hang up his cleats after the season. He's a 36-year old receiver who is coming off a torn ACL in 2013 and an elbow injury and torn triceps this season, an injury that will require surgery this offseason. The injury clearly affected him, to the point that he caught one pass for 12 yards in three postseason games combined, including going without a catch in the last two games. On Sunday against the Patriots, he played just 21 snaps (38%). It's been tough to see the stark drop off in production (due in large part to the injuries) and it's perfectly fair to wonder whether he has played his last NFL game. If so, he'll go in the Colts' ring of honor and continue to be a fan favorite, but it'd be weird to start a season without number 87 out there. It's a real possibility, however.
Another notable name that hasn't been talked about nearly as much is defensive end Cory Redding, the 34-year old, 12-year veteran. And it's fair to wonder whether he played his last game as a Colt on Sunday as well. Redding followed Chuck Pagano over from Baltimore in 2012 and proved to be a huge signing, as he provided the Colts with both production on the field and leadership as well. For the first half of this season, Redding was playing incredible football, and while his play did drop off considerably as the season went on, he was still a good defensive end. But it's been thought for a while that Redding might retire after this season, and that may be the case.
We don't know for sure on whether Reggie Wayne or Cory Redding will retire or return, and it's likely that neither player knows either. But it's a very real possibility that one or both of them might choose to hang it up this offseason. And if that happens, it would be a huge leadership gap and two very notable Colts gone that would make the receiver and defensive line positions in even more in need of being addressed this offseason.