After he was not re-signed by the Indianapolis Colts, some thought veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne’s career was over. Considered the second-best wide receiver in recent Indianapolis Colts history behind Marvin Harrison, many were surprised the Colts did not keep him around after this season and let him walk into free agency. But sometimes business means more than the legacy of a player that meant a lot to the Colts. And just like Peyton Manning, the Colts had to make the tough decision to let a key player in their franchise’s history go. Despite the quiet free agency buzz around him, Wayne maintained that he would still be interested in playing with a team if the fit was good. There was a lot of doubt as to if someone would even pick him up after watching him struggle while battling through torn triceps. Recently, a list of teams mentioned they were interested in the services of Wayne. The teams mentioned included the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. The choice was there for Reggie to continue his career. The Ravens and Texans have reportedly backed down from their consideration of bringing in Wayne. But that leaves two teams that are in play for his services: the Packers and the Patriots. But if you take a look at both teams, neither would be a good fit for him at all.
The Packers are led offensively by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The veteran quarterback out of the University of California is arguably the best quarterback in the game. For Wayne, aligning with Rodgers would be excellent for his career. But in the scheme of things, how would he even fit that team at that position? This offseason, the Packers made sure to lock up one of their best weapons, Randall Cobb. The dynamic wide receiver signed a four-year, $40 million deal to stay in Green Bay. The deal keeps him paired with Jordy Nelson, who signed a similar deal with the Packers last offseason. After those two receivers, the Packers have a lot of young players. One young player that stood out for them last season was wide receiver Devante Adams. The rookie out of Fresno State only had 38 receptions for 446 yards, but it’s hard to get many catches when you’re playing with two guys that had over 90 receptions themselves. And the thing about Adams is he’s still young and improving. The Packers also have a penchant for drafting and finding good wide receivers. So in signing Wayne, they would be paying him to be a fourth wide receiver. And knowing the amount of money he may command, Wayne should be out of the question for the Pack. Green Bay would be stepping way out of their character if they brought in Wayne and for the veteran wide receiver, he would risk being cut before the season started if he signed there only due to his salary not meeting the potential production.
Tom Brady, like Aaron Rodgers, is in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in the NFL. He consistently does great things with the pieces that are handed to him. And last season, he made won the Super Bowl with a wide receiver crew that no one envied and a beast of a tight end in Rob Gronkowski. Heading into this season, the same cast that Brady had last season is set to return. And with the cast, the Patriots are considering bringing in Reggie Wayne. The veteran wide receiver, at this point in his career, does not have the speed he used to after his serious knee injury a couple years ago. He can probably still run good routes, but the separation from defenders on his routes may not be the same as it used to be. With the Patriots, they love to run the short routes that require separation. In Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman, the Patriots have the wide receivers they need to do the things they do. By adding Wayne, they would be adding one more guy that would be doing the same thing the others do. If anything, the Patriots need a guy that can take the top off of defenses. And Wayne has never really been a guy that strikes fear in teams with his speed. It has been his route-running that has been his staple over his entire career. Wayne would actually find himself in a battle to make the roster in New England like he would in Green Bay. And when it comes down to those choices with teams, you already know which way they will go. Teams would rather pay a young player that has upside and a smaller contract than a guy that an older guy that may command more money. Some fans of teams may or may not like the trend to keep cheaper, younger players, but this is what we are given in today’s salary-cap driven NFL.
The best choice for Reggie Wayne is to accept his time has passed. The veteran wide receiver has played his whole career up to this point with the Indianapolis Colts. With his health declining and with his speed declining, Wayne may not have the same affect he had in Indianapolis. Or even worse, he may not get to have that chance due to getting cut before the season on either of these two teams. Athletes are always on the go and in the end it is their decision when they want to give up the game. But it is also up to the players to actually notice the signs that tell you that it is over. Whether players listen or see the signs is up to them, but Wayne is missing the signs that it is time to call it a career if he steps on the field again.