Colts owner Jim Irsay on not re-signing Reggie Wayne: 'It was really hard'

PHOENIX -- There was a lot of sadness, disappointment and even anger from some Indianapolis Colts fans on the morning of March 6 when the team announced it would not be re-signing veteran receiver Reggie Wayne.

There was a lot of emotion from owner Jim Irsay when he flew down to Florida to meet with Wayne, who spent his entire 14-year career with the franchise, to break the news to him face-to-face, man-to-man that was it time to part ways with him.

"He understood where the franchise was coming from in the end and we wish him well with whatever he decides on," Irsay said Monday. "It was really hard. I knew that when you kind of let that era from Peyton's era and Edgerrin (James) and Marvin (Harrison) and Reggie and everyone. It's hard to let that era go because it was so special. But at the same time, in terms of the direction we thought the team had to go in, it was tough."

Irsay or general manager Ryan Grigson could have easily called Wayne or asked him to fly up to Indianapolis to meet with them, but they respect him too much to do that.

Wayne gave his all to the Colts during his time with the franchise. He totaled 1,070 receptions, 14,345 yards, 82 touchdowns and helped Indianapolis win a Super Bowl in his career.

But it was also obvious that Wayne wasn't the same player last season. He had his worst season since 2002 last season, totaling 64 receptions for 779 yards and two touchdowns while dealing with an elbow and torn triceps in the second half of the season.

Wayne would have been the Colts' third receiver at best if the team re-signed him.

"I just think that we always look at making sure we can put the best possible team on the field," Irsay said. "It's professional football. It's very competitive and it has to do with winning and losing. So you can't let affection or emotion cloud your decisions when you're building your roster. And that's what I mean. It always comes down to what's the best direction for the franchise to go. And that's the way decisions get made."

Irsay said Wayne is feeling good believes he wants to try to play at least another season.

"If he does, we support that," the owner said.

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