March 6, 2015 / 5:23 PM / 2 years ago

Colts opt not to re-sign veteran receiver Wayne

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Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne (87) waves to the crowd after the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - The Indianapolis Colts said on Friday they will not re-sign Reggie Wayne, a decision that will make one of the NFL's all-time greatest receivers a free agent next week.

Wayne, who has spent his entire 14-year career with the Colts, is ranked eighth on the National Football League's all-time receiving yards list with 14,345.

"Reggie is one of the greatest men to ever wear the horseshoe, and we have been blessed to watch him play for the past 14 years," Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement.

"When he first took the field with us in 2001, we knew this day would eventually arrive. That reality is one of the things that makes pro football such a tough business."

Wayne's departure marks the second big-name player in three years that the Colts decided to part ways with as they released future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning in 2012 to clear the way for young signal caller Andrew Luck.

Wayne, 36, is the NFL's active leader in receptions and receiving yards but said in January that he was undecided about returning for another season.

His performance has declined and he was coming off a season where he managed 64 receptions for 779 yards and two touchdowns.

Wayne is the Colts' leader in regular-season games played (211) and wins (143) and ranks second in receptions (1,070), receiving yards (14,345), receiving touchdowns (80), 100-yard games (43) and consecutive games with a reception (134).

He won a Super Bowl with the Colts in 2007 and caught a 53-yard touchdown pass to open his team's scoring in the championship game victory over the Chicago Bears.

"We feel this decision is in the best interests of the team and for Reggie as it will allow him to seek a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere if he so chooses," said Irsay.

"Reggie is beloved by the Colts' organization and our fans. ... I look forward to the day in the near future when our great number 87 enters the Colts Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Gene Cherry

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