Colts fans probably got a little sick to their stomachs today when longtime great Reggie Wayne, an unrestricted free agent, signed with the hated New England Patriots. Wayne provides immediate relief to a team that has major injury issues at the wide receiver position. Wayne is looking to add another Super Bowl ring to his resume, along with continuing his climb up the ranks of the all-time receptions and receiving yards leaders. He has a real chance to jump into the top five in each category. Wayne also made it clear that he wanted to play for a contender, and New England fit that description.
Wayne, 36, who is entering his 15th season in the NFL, has made six Pro Bowls, is a member of the 10,000 Receiving Yards Club, and earned a Super Bowl ring with the Colts. Up until 2013, Wayne didn't show a lot of drop off, and he was playing well, but seven games into the season he tore his ACL and missed the remainder of the season. Wayne returned in 2014, but had a subpar year for his standards, making 64 catches for 779 and two touchdowns. Wayne also played the entire season with a shoulder injury and was only one year removed from an ACL tear, so his down season does have an explanation.
Wayne will receive every opportunity to be part of the offense, and assuming he stays healthy, he'll make his mark. His flexibility of being able to play outside or in the slot allows New England to roll out even more personnel packages that defense will struggle to defend. Wayne has 1,070 catches, 14,345 yards, and 82 touchdowns in his career, impressive numbers considering he had to share the ball with Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, and many others.
At the age of 36, it is hard to gauge what a professional athlete has left in their tank; I've always pointed to the age of 37 as the end. Some athletes have great seasons at that age and then the decline begins steadily, and some lost it immediately. Wayne seems like the type of athlete that can succeed still because he's never been a burner; he relies on technique, smarts, and great hands. If he still has those three things, Tom Brady will be more than happy to throw the ball his way and help him climb into the top five receivers of all time.
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