Could Reggie Wayne be the key to landing Peyton Manning?

Reggie Wayne has called South Florida home every offseason since entered the league back in 2001, and sources say the former Miami Hurricanes standout is open to making Miami his in-season home, signing with the Miami Dolphins.

Wayne, a five-time Pro Bowler with the Indianapolis Colts, become an unrestricted free agent on March 13. He could become part of a package deal that includes future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, who will be released by the Colts today.

The source said Manning and Wayne have not spoken specifically about landing in the same city, playing for the same team. But they realize its a possibility, one they would favor because of their friendship and on the field bond. Neither are expected to re-sign with Indianapolis.

The Dolphins aren’t actively looking for more receivers, but considering Manning is the team’s top quarterback target General Manager Jeff Ireland might be willing to pair Wayne with Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess.

Brian Hartline, who caught 35 passes for 549 yards and scored one touchdown last season, would likely lose his starting spot to Wayne, who is 33. But it’s possible Hartline, who enters the final year of his rookie deal, could remain in the receiver rotation.

Wayne caught 75 passes for 950 yards and four touchdowns in 2011, and that was a down year for this three-time All-Pro selection, who didn’t have Manning throwing to him for the first time in 11 seasons.

Before 2011 the New Orleans native produced seven straight seasons of 1,000 or more receiving yards.

Wayne has primarily worked from the left side of the field, which could be a challenge for the rest of the team’s playmakers.

The free agent market is flooded with quality receivers, and the draft is also stocked with young talent. That makes it a challenge to determine how much Wayne’s worth on the open market.

It’s likely that his camp will seek a contract comparable to the three-years, $15 million deal his former UM teammate, Santana Moss, got from the Washington Redskins last year.

That deal included a $5 million signing bonus and $6 million in guarantees from the Redskins. The cap hit on that deal would be about $2.67 million in the first season.

Considering the Dolphins have approximately $15 million in cap space to work with – without restructuring contacts –  it’s possible the Dolphins will need to get creative to create salary cap space for Manning and Wayne.

It’s also possible Manning’s center, Jeff Saturday, who is also a free agent, might be interested in playing for the team that signs Manning. The Dolphins could address some of its offensive line issues by signing Saturday and moving Mike Pouncey, last year’s first-round pick, to right guard.
Fellow Colts receiver Pierre Garcon, another South Florida native, is also a free agent. However, his age and productivity would likely make his price tag much higher than what it would cost to land Wayne.

Read more of Omar Kelly’s blog.

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