With Mathis tagged, whom will Luck throw to?

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
5:34
PM ET
Andrew Luck's expected to be the Colts’ opening day starting quarterback.

Who’s he throwing to?

Adam Schefter and several others report the Colts have a long-term deal in place with defensive end Robert Mathis, but couldn't wrap things up by the deadline so they applied the tag to hold them over.

Tweeted Mathis: "Still Bleedin BLUE!!! #YaDigg"

That would indicate that they didn't have a plan to use the tag on receiver Pierre Garcon (or Reggie Wayne) if they had Mathis locked up in advance. With the deadline past, they don't get the tag back.

Mathis is sure to be asked to stand up and move around some as an outside linebacker as coach Chuck Pagano begins a transition to a 3-4. The defensive end's absence from the free-agent market adds to the value of Mario Williams if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Mathis and Cliff Avril of the Lions were the next-best veteran pass rushers and they were both, technically, tagged by the 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Barring a deal for one in the next eight days, Garcon and Wayne are going to become free agents and flee. Garcon has passed on one offer, the specifics of which we don't know. Last we heard from Wayne, he'd not heard from the team and took that as meaning they were moving on. The far less-proven Anthony Gonzalez is also unsigned.

The Colts, for right now, have two receivers with experience under contract:
Luck should have tight end Dallas Clark as well. But the Colts second pass-catching tight end, Jacob Tamme, is also heading for unrestricted free agency.

So, while the Colts may be set at quarterback with Luck as the No. 1 pick if they part with Manning this week, they’ve got a load of work to do at receiver as well as on the offensive line and at running back.

And that’s just on offense.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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