Yesterday, Colts fans worst fears were realized after it was reported that longtime receiver Reggie Wayne has a torn ACL. Wayne was injured during the Colts 39-33 win over Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
His season came to an end on an innocuous play where he attempted to come back for an underthrown pass. There were no defenders within 30 yards of the play. It was clear immediately after the play that he was seriously hurt, and his reaction on the sideline cemented those fears.
He not only tore his ACL but will also need surgery on his meniscus as well. Despite this, Wanye believes he will recover fully and play next season. At 34, Wayne likely has more good days behind him than in front of him. Marvin Harrison’s career was brought down by a similar set of circumstances as well. While Wayne doesn’t rely on his speed all that much anymore, he still needs to be able to make quick cuts and make catches in traffic. It will be an uphill battle for him to return to form.
Wayne was leading the team with 38 receptions for 503 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Wayne recently reached the 1,000th club, becoming just the ninth player to do so.
This is a huge blow to the team, not only for his on field production but also as a leader. He will still be on the sidelines and in the locker room, but it won’t be the same. Losing Wayne makes the loss against Manning and the Broncos nearly seem like a loss.
The Colts have now lost four starters on offense, and a total of five players on that side of the ball. Two running backs, a tight end, a receiver, and a guard. The Colts are going to need to lean on Andrew Luck more heavily than ever. Jim Irsay may have wanted a more balanced team, but its going to have to be the Luck Show from here on out.
So where will the Colts go from here? Ryan Grigson has to find a way to reproduce some of Wayne’s production on the field. Under Bill Polian, the Colts would have simply called someone up from the practice squad, but Grigson is no stranger to big deals.
Remember, after Vick Ballard went down, he went out and traded for Trent Richardson. A big certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
The Colts could lean more heavily on LeVon Brazil, who doesn’t have a reception this season (mostly due to a four game suspension), or activate Griff Whalen from the practice squad. Whalen has two receptions this season and played with Luck at Stanford.
Without Wayne, the Colts really lack a possession receiver. The type of player who gets open on third down and can make difficult catches in traffic.
There are a few options out there for a trade. The popular name being thrown around is Giants’ receiver Hakeem Nicks, who is almost a clone of Wayne. Nicks has a history of injuries, and his salary would be an issue.
The Browns’ Josh Gordon is another option. Grigson tried to take him in the supplemental draft last season, but Cleveland beat him to it. He’s already made one big deal with the Browns, and it would be a stretch to do it again.
Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders is another option, but is likely a longshot. The Steelers have won two straight and don’t need to take away anymore options for Ben Roethlisberger.
A dark horse candidate would be Falcons’ tight end Tony Gonzalez. At 2-4, Atlanta’s season is basically over especially with their roster being devastated by injuries. Gonzalez came back this season to try and win a championship, Grigson would be wise to see if he wants another shot with the Colts.
If Grigson is going to trade, it will likely be a big name. And if they plan on trading, it has to be immediately. That will give the new player the bye week to start working with Luck and learning the playbook. The trade deadline is October 29th.
We’ll have more as this develops.
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