"Reggie is one of the greatest men to ever wear the horseshoe, and we have been blessed to watch him play for the past 14 years," Colts owner Jim Irsay said in a statement. "When he first took the field with us in 2001, we knew this day would eventually arrive. That reality is one of the things that makes pro football such a tough business. We feel this decision is in the best interests of the team and for Reggie as it will allow him to seek a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere if he so chooses."
Wayne is the franchise leader in regular-season games played (211) and wins (143) and ranks second in receptions (1,070), receiving yards (14,345), receiving touchdowns (80), 100-yard games (43) and consecutive games with a reception (134).
He ranks seventh in NFL history in career receptions and eighth in receiving yards.
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson also made the tough decision of releasing franchise quarterback Peyton Manning in the spring of 2012.
"Everyone knows the greatness and history associated with number 87," Grigson said. "He truly is one of a small handful of players who really define the Colts as an organization. He was already a Hall of Famer in the making when Chuck [Pagano] and I arrived in Indianapolis in 2012, but no one has contributed more, on the field and in this building, to our turnaround, our continued growth, and our overall success since then. ... We wish him nothing but the best in whatever new endeavor he pursues."
Wayne said after the Colts lost to New England in the AFC Championship Game that he would take some time to talk to his family before deciding whether he would return for a 15th NFL season.
The Colts, however, made up their mind before Wayne could tell them his plans. He will become an unrestricted free agent Tuesday.
Wayne, who will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame five years after he retires, no longer has the capability to be quarterback Andrew Luck's security blanket. He had just 64 receptions for 779 yards and two touchdowns last season -- his worst since 2003.
Wayne's goal last season was to prove that he could return from a torn ACL suffered in Week 7 against Denver in October 2013. Things changed, however, when he suffered an elbow injury against Cincinnati on Oct. 19. Wayne missed one game and returned only to find out later that he had a torn triceps.
Wayne ended his career with the Colts without a reception in the their final two playoff games against Denver and New England.