What Could’ve Been: Pierre Garçon Returns to Play Colts


December 9, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) smiles on the field against the Baltimore Ravens at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins’ Pierre Garcon will return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since 2011, when he was a starting wideout for the Indianapolis Colts. The 7th-year wideout was originally a 6th round pick of Indianapolis in the 2008 NFL Draft from small-school Mount Union University (DIII).

Following the 2011 season, in which Garcon had 70 receptions for 947 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns with largely Curtis Painter as his starting Colts’ quarterback, Garcon signed with the Washington Redskins as a free agent. He left for “greener ” pastures to the tune of $42.5MM over 5 years with $20.5MM guaranteed.

While the Colts had made him one of their top priorities during free agency, even over veteran free agent Reggie Wayne, the then-25 year old Garcon signed the lucrative Redskins’ offer within an hour of free agency officially beginning. However, he was inclined to thank Colts’ fans on his way out the door even after inking his new gig:

"“I want to thank all Colts fans from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support you’ve shown me the past 4 years and I hope that at some level u will still follow my career, as I will continue to share my life with you on here.”"

Garcon will in fact get to share his life, only this time “up close and personal” to the very same Colts’ faithful that once proudly called him one of their own on Sunday.

Through not necessarily through the fault of his own, Garcon has had a rough season with the Washington Redskins in 2014. His production hampered by the Redskins’ volatile quarterbacking situation and often a forgotten man in the offense, Garcon only has 46 receptions for 498 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns:

"“It’s football. You know how it is, man,” Garcon said with a grunt when asked to assess the decrease in production and opportunities. “You never know when your number’s going to be called. You just have to be ready.”"

It’s interesting to think about what may have changed for the franchise had Garcon remained with the Indianapolis Colts and signed a long-term contract that offseason. Straddled with dead salary cap money from released star players of a previous regime, new Colts’ General Manager Ryan Grigson could only likely choose between one of the starting wideouts in Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne in free agency to move forward with.

Steve C. Mitchell/European Pressphoto Agency

Pierre Garcon, a second-year receiver, with Colts quarterback Peyton Manning after the Jets game, in which he had 11 catches, including a touchdown.

With Garcon quickly bolting to Washington in free agency, the decision was made easy. Grigson then turned his attention to beloved Colts’ veteran wideout Reggie Wayne, who in 2011 with Painter at the helm, failed to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in his career for the 1st time since 2004. At age 33, many league observers felt Wayne was clearly on the decline entering his 12th NFL season.

However, what they didn’t fully understand, is the difference that a competent starting quarterback can truly make. As Pierre Garcon is once again learning the hard way, a wide receiver’s production is oftentimes only as good as his quarterback’s play. After re-signing with the Colts, Wayne rebounded with a 1,355 yard receiving season with rookie QB Andrew Luck in 2012, while providing key leadership in the team’s transition to a new front office, coaching staff, and freshly implemented offensive system.

While the Colts have missed Garcon’s big-play ability in spots, they’ve found a gem in young star wideout T.Y. Hilton, who has oftentimes provided it in his 3-year NFL career. What they haven’t been quite able to replace is Wayne’s leadership and dependability, although Luck is certainly emerging in that regard.

Dec 16, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) talks with wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) during the third quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

If given the chance and Robert Griffin‘s uncertain future now revealed, it would be interesting to see if Garcon would choose to make the same decision again.

Up to this point, it had appeared to work well for both parties. The Colts have desperately needed Wayne’s leadership and dependability, while Garcon got to experience NFL life as a #1 wideout, eclipsing 1,300 receiving yards with the Redskins in 2013. However, with a cloud now hovering over the Redskins’ once-coined franchise signal caller, Robert Griffin, life may not be as easy as it would’ve been catching crisply thrown footballs from QB Andrew Luck in Indianapolis for presumably many years to come.

Still, Garcon seems like a hardworking and likable player, especially during his time as an Indianapolis Colt. While many fans will remember him most for his crucial 2nd quarter drop in Super Bowl XLIV against the Saints, he was an exciting young playmaker during his 4 years with the team. He made a lot of big plays and was quite productive for the Colts’ franchise as a budding young wide receiver.

It’s still interesting to think about though, what could’ve been…

Reggie Wayne #87 of the Indianapolis Colts is congratulated by Pierre Garcon #85 after scoring a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Panthers defeated the Colts 27-19. (November 26, 2011 – Source: Scott Boehm/Getty Images North America)