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Indy retains another key piece of its offense

Receiver Reggie Wayne passed up a chance to become an unrestricted free agent and agreed to a $39-million, six-year contract with the Colts on Wednesday.

The deal makes Wayne one of the league's highest-paid receivers and includes a $13.5-million signing bonus. It came less than 24 hours before today's deadline to designate franchise players.

But Wayne wanted more than money out of his contract.

"He thinks in terms of enjoying the situation with the team and the offense he's familiar with," his agent, David Dunn said.

"And having Peyton (Manning) throwing you the ball and Coach (Tony) Dungy doesn't hurt."

Wayne caught 77 passes for 1,210 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2004, when he became part of the first receiving trio to top 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last season, he had 83 catches for 1,055 yards and five touchdowns.

Wayne's signing means the Colts will keep their passing attack intact.

Fellow receiver Marvin Harrison signed a six-year, $66-million deal in December 2004. Manning signed a seven-year, $98-million deal in March 2004. The No. 3 receiver, Brandon Stokley, agreed to a five-year deal late in the 2004 season.

But now the Colts must make other decisions.

Edgerrin James, a two-time league rushing champion, will become an unrestricted free agent March 3 unless the Colts put the franchise tag on him for the second straight year.

Three other key players, linebacker David Thornton, defensive lineman Raheem Brock and kicker Mike Vanderjagt, also are expected to become unrestricted free agents.

Team president Bill Polian said he has not decided whether to use the franchise tag.