The Indianapolis Colts proved to be one of the NFL's best stories during the 2012 seasons for a long list of reasons, including the play of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck. Reggie Wayne led the team in receptions, yards and targets, but an unheralded wide receiver was second in receptions and targets -- free agent wide receiver Donnie Avery.
Avery finished the 2012 season with career-highs in targets (125), receptions (61) and receiving yards (781). Avery will forever be linked with Luck, as well, as Avery was the recipient of Luck's first-career touchdown pass in Week 1.
For the second time in as many seasons, Avery will test the free agent market. Avery spent the 2011 season with the Tennessee Titans, but played sparingly, finishing the year with three receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Avery was originally drafted by the St. Louis Rams with the No. 33 overall pick in 2008. While unspectacular, Avery put up very respectable freshman and sophomore campaigns in the NFL, combining for 100 receptions and 1,263 yards in his first two seasons. Unfortunately, Avery tore his ACL prior to the 2010 season and consequently missed the entire year.
St. Louis released Avery in Sept. 2011, and he eventually signed with the Titans for the 2011 season. Avery signed a one-year deal with the Colts last March and proved to be a capable receiver.
Avery was not perfect by any means for the Colts in 2012. While he posted a career-best 60 receptions, he was also tied for 16th in the NFL in 2012 with seven dropped passes. Avery had the highest drop-rate of all catchable balls in 2012, dropping 12 of 72, according to Pro Football Focus. He will have to work on being more sure-handed wherever he ends up playing football in 2012.
If the Colts don't bring back Avery, the former Houston Cougars wide out could draw interest from the New York Jets. The Jets were interested in Avery last season, but he ultimately decided to sign with Indianapolis. New York's receiving corps certainly needs a boost, and Avery could help provide that.
New York's archrival, the New England Patriots, could also have interest in Avery. New England is likely to release Brandon Lloyd, and the Patriots could lose Wes Welker through free agency, as well, leaving the them with little-to-no experience at the wide receiver position. Avery could provide a cheap solution for the Pats, as they look to invest heavily in defense.
Whoever signs Avery should look to him as a good fourth receiver and not expect him to be a starting receiver capable of posting 1,000 yard seasons. Avery has shown he can be a capable wide receiver, but his dropped passes are cause for concern. Still, he will boost somebody's receiving corps in 2013.