Reggie Wayne arrived in New England last night and is taking a physical with the Patriots today, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Wayne, of course, has maintained that he wants to play in 2015, and he said last month that he had received interest from several clubs. Until today, however, we had yet to hear anything more concrete.
The 36-year-old veteran of 14 NFL seasons is no longer the sort of impact player he was during his prime. However, he was still a reliable target for Andrew Luck last season, compiling 779 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 64 catches. Over the course of his Hall-of-Fame career, Wayne has compiled over 14,000 receiving yards, the most among active receivers and eighth all time. He also has 82 touchdowns and six Pro Bowl nods to his credit. He plans to play for one more season, with a championship contender, and then call it a career.
Of course, just because he is taking a physical with New England does not mean that he will ultimately sign with the team. But as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes, Wayne does have a fan in Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who had this to say in advance of the Colts-Patriots matchup last November:
“[H]e’s still really good at everything. [He’s] obviously a real smart and experienced guy; knows how to set up routes, make all of his routes look the same, does a great job of releasing and then at the top of his routes being able to create separation at just the right time when the quarterback is ready to throw. He’s been a key guy for them in critical situations and third down-type situations.”
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com tweets that there is some debate in the scouting community as to how much Wayne has left in the tank, but the veteran savvy that Belichick describes would serve Wayne in good stead in the relatively complex New England offense, particularly when combined with talented younger players like Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell. As Reiss observes (via Twitter), it makes sense that New England would be doing its due diligence on Wayne, as Edelman, LaFell, Brian Tyms, and Aaron Dobson have all been dealing with injuries, and Brandon Gibson limped off the field with a knee injury in last night’s preseason contest against the Saints.
Ben Volin of The Boston Globe adds an interesting footnote to this development (via Twitter). Volin points out that, as a vested veteran, the Patriots would have to guarantee Wayne’s full salary if he were to make the Week 1 roster. But if the team were to sign him after Week 1, that would no longer be the case.
At this point, though, we will simply have to wait and see if yet another storyline will be added to the longstanding Colts-Patriots rivalry.