Wide receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive end Robert Mathis are both entering the final year of their contracts, and both have made some noise about wanting extensions. As Mike Chappell reported this morning, though, the Colts aren’t about to make exceptions for these two veterans and will wait instead until next off-season to address their futures with the team. Owner Jim Irsay had this to say on Sunday:
At this point, I don’t anticipate that sort of thing, an extension or anything like that. We always talk about next year, where we’re going to be with the cap, what type of situation we’re going to be in because it’s going to come quickly. We prepare for next year whether it’s Pierre, or Robert and Reggie.
Bill Polian also pointed to the recent signings of Ryan Diem, Joseph Addai and even Peyton Manning as evidence that the team doesn’t like to extend contracts but will bring back it’s best players when their deals are up. That generally rings true, but I don’t think Manning really belongs in this group. Irsay has been telling us for two years that the team was negotiating to extend Manning, even though nothing got done until the eve of training camp last week. Either Manning is different than the rest (he is) or Irsay was exaggerating about the status of the early contract talks (who knows?), or both.
Whatever the case, it’s clear that Wayne and Mathis will have to play this season with no safety net. That’s probably a good business model in the NFL, where an injury that makes your multi-million dollar investment worthless, from an on-field perspective, is always just a snap away. Still, with non-guaranteed contracts and the propensity for teams to cut players anyway, I’m not sure an extension is that big of a risk financially. I wonder if players in this lame-duck situation are more or less likely to really lay their bodies on the line knowing that the future is so uncertain. It probably depends on the individual to a large extent, but common sense would indicate that self-preservation tactics are just as important to players as they are to teams.
After all, these guys have proven track records and can land high-paying gigs with other teams if necessary. But only if they’re healthy.