Wayne, Mathis, Garcon could remain Colts, thanks to Manning

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Peyton Manning's decision to take less money than he could have received in his new Indianapolis Colts contract went over well with some of the most likely long-term beneficiaries.

Wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon and defensive end Robert Mathis are in the final years of their deals, and Colts owner Jim Irsay and vice chairman Bill Polian said keeping them will be a top priority next year.

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By accepting a salary-cap-friendly five-year, $90 million deal, Manning made keeping them all a more likely scenario.

"He's a big team guy," Mathis said of his quarterback. "It doesn't surprise me. He knows he needs guys around him for us to do what we need to do. He's aware of that, and he sacrificed for the betterment of the team."

Wayne said Manning's decision was symbolic of what the Colts are about.

"Appreciate it," Wayne said. "That just goes to show the type of team that we have, guys who will step in and be unselfish and want to do what's best for the team. He's definitely an example of that."

Manning's decision already has paid dividends. Shortly after Manning agreed to his new deal, the Colts re-signed three key free agents: running back Joseph Addai, safety Melvin Bullitt and kicker Adam Vinatieri.

The Colts also redid right tackle Ryan Diem's contract and announced it was bringing back defensive tackles Eric Foster and Antonio Johnson and offensive linemen Kyle DeVan and Michael Toudouze. DeVan started at left guard the past two seasons, and Johnson started at defensive tackle.

"We wanted to do something fair for everybody," Manning said. "The fact that we signed (Joseph) Addai, Ryan Diem and Antonio Johnson right after the fact, that's what I wanted to do."

Polian said the domino effect will be felt throughout the course of Manning's deal.

"We are a much better football team because of the sacrifice and leadership position he took," Polian said. "That's probably as good a description of him you possibly can find. From the day he arrived, we have been a better football team because of his sacrifice and hard work and leadership, and that goes on for five more years."

Polian said the Colts won't sign Mathis, Wayne or Garcon early because the team doesn't operate that way. But Polian sounded confident that they would be Colts in the future.

"We always achieve those number one priorities," he said. "The living proof of that is we just signed Peyton and now are already on to next year."

As evidence of Wayne's confidence that the Colts will live up to their word, he jokingly offered Manning a gift of appreciation.

"Dinner on me, I guess," the receiver said.

Wayne has 787 career catches for 10,748 yards and 69 touchdowns. He had a career-high 111 catches last season, earned his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl bid and was selected to All-Pro first team for first time in his career.

Wayne said his age, 32, will not be a factor when it comes time to agree to a new deal.

"They've got to put me out, man," he said. "Take me out behind the barn. I feel good. I haven't felt this good in years. I feel like 2001 and 2002 Reggie."

In the short term, Wayne will focus on trying to help his team reach the Super Bowl, which will be played in Indianapolis. No team has played in the Super Bowl on its home field.

"Yeah, we've got a chance to do something that's never been done before, but at the same time, we will keep our same focus, and that is take care of our division," Wayne said. "If we take care of our division, then we are guaranteed to make the playoffs. Once the playoffs come, it's a whole different season."

Mathis, 30, has been a Pro Bowl selection the past three years. He led the team with 11 sacks last season and has 74 in his career. He doesn't mind going into the season without a deal worked out.

"When it happens, it happens," he said.

Garcon, 24, had career highs of 67 receptions for 784 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Wayne said he is focused on honoring his current contract.

"If it was an issue, I wouldn't be here," he said. "It is what it is. I've got about seven or eight months left on this contract, and that's what I'm going to do. I guess I'll wait until the season is over and figure out what the rest will be."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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