by Kent Sterling
Back in the day – like two years ago – Bill Polian would announce that a practice squad member had been activated to fill the spot vacated by an injured player, and that would be that. Current general manager Ryan Grigson is more aggressive than that, so the rumor mill is churning names of receivers to take Reggie Wayne’s spot on the roster.
Wayne tore his ACL and meniscus last night on play without contact, and he will spend the rest of the season resting and rehabbing, trying to rebuild the strength and agility to return for yet another season of excellence.
Grigson is bold in how he addresses weaknesses. When running back Vick Ballard went down for the season, he dealt the team’s 2014 first rounder to the Cleveland Browns for 2012 #3 overall pick Trent Richardson.
Josh Gordon, Hakeem Nicks, Greg Jennings, Deion Branch, and several others have been named as possibilities for the Colts to target. All are longshots generated by a quick look at the rosters of teams whose hopes for a playoff berth after week seven are gone. Let’s engage is this silly game for a minute, because without a listening device in Grigson’s office, we have no earthly idea what the hell he’s thinking.
Teams that are finished for 2013 include the New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, and because of the loss of franchise QB Sam Bradford the St. Louis Rams. Kellen Clemens is a really nice guy, but he’s not Bradford.
- The Giants have a healthy bunch of wide receivers who will go wasted through the rest of the miserable 2013 collapse. Hakeem Nicks is only 25 (seems like he should be older, doesn’t it?), and will be a free agent at the end of the season. His cap number of $3.7M is close to prohibitive, but he’s the kind of player who would fit well. Nicks has expressed an interest in testing the market as a free agent. None of the rest fit as targets or potential offerings.
- The Vikings have Jennings, who signed a five-year, $45 million deal prior to this season can be eliminated from the sweepstakes. There is no way the Colts can find a suitable hiding place for that level of cap space. Jerome Simpson and Cordarelle Patterson join him. Simpson will be a free agent in 2014, and comes with a relatively light $2.1M cap number, but no way that the Vikings will part with rookie first rounder Patterson.
- Deion Branch is a local guy who has kept himself in shape just in case the phone rings, but the phone rang last year, and Branch didn’t do too much for the New England Patriots despite a lost history with Tom Brady. Financially, it fits because employed is better than unemployed, and he would require no compensation in trade because of his unemployment. The downside is that no one in the NFL wanted to take a flyer on him.
- Some are speculating that Josh Gordon would be a good target, and he would be if not for his status with the NFL as a one more strike and he sits for a full year. That’s a deal breaker. Gordon reportedly tested positive for marijuana three times at Baylor, and failed a codeine test while with the Browns. Is he crazy talented? Yes, but because of that size and ability, if the Browns have any hope for Gordon, they can’t trade him.
- The Rams would be an interesting partner if they had a wide receiver who fit the veteran role the Colts have available. Their wideouts – Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Austin Pettis, Chris Givens, and Brian Quick are all young and unpolished – the opposite of Wayne.
- Kenny Britt has been mentioned, so he’s listed here, but trading within the division is very rare for good reason. Same with the entire group in Jacksonville. Justin Blackmon has great talent, but no one would be crazy enough to deal him.
No matter what happens, the Colts will not be able to replace Wayne with a similar talent. The work ethic and chemistry with Andrew Luck cannot be replaced. With the Colts at 5-2, and the trade deadline just eight days away, the clock is ticking.
If a trade or free agent signing isn’t forthcoming, get ready for a combination of LaVon Brazill, Da’Rick Rogers, and Griff Whalen to join T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bay as targets for the burgeoning greatness of Andrew Luck.
If I were a betting man, and as you heard during my picks on Saturday’s “Ahead of the Curve,” (1070 the Fan – Indianapolis), it’s a damn good thing I’m not, my bet would be Nicks. He fits best, and without any guarantee that Wayne comes back, it would be smart to bring him in and establish a relationship if a long term deal begins to make sense.