|Free Agent Snapshot: Reggie Wayne||02.14.12 at 1:58 pm ET|
Today begins a series on 15 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency this offseason. With the understanding that the NFL’s franchise tag window runs from February 20 to March 5 (which means some of these players we list could ultimately be retained by their team) here are some players worth keeping an eye on that might be a fit in New England when free agency begins March 13:
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 198 pounds
It certainly appears that Indy, with a new coach and GM, is looking to break up the band, so it should come as no surprise that Wayne has said the Colts haven’t reached out to him regarding his future. He has made it known — at least through a third party — that he’d be open to playing for the Patriots, as the Boston Herald reported that he told Willie McGinest that he’d welcome a chance to play in New England. He’d be a welcome alternative to Chad Ochocinco — he’s a similar size (Ocho is 6-foot-1, 198 pounds) and is almost a year younger. And even on short money, Wayne would be a better fit with the Patriots than this guy.
In 2011, Wayne had his worst season statistically since 2003, as he finished with 75 catches for 960 yards and four touchdowns. (I’ll let you think about that for a second — it might be the only time you see the words “worst” and “960 yards” in the same sentence.) The drop in numbers could very well be because Manning was sidelined for the bulk of the season and Wayne had to make do with the likes of Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins throwing him the ball. Despite that, he still managed to lead Indy in receptions and receiving yards.
Unless he gets knocked sideways by a ridiculous offer, he’s not going to go somewhere and start all over again. He also passes what might best be described as the Rosevelt Colvin test: in 2002, before a game against the Bears, Belichick waxed rhapsodic about Colvin’s greatness. In 2009, Belichick was effusive in his praise of Wayne, saying after the infamous fourth and 2 game (a contest where Wayne had 10 catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns), “I can’t say enough about Reggie Wayne. That guy’s the best receiver we cover every year. It seems like he just keeps getting better. I thought the routes he ran and the catches he made were nothing short of spectacular — the go-route, the two touchdown catches, the third-down conversion on the corner route in front of our bench. He’s a tremendous receiver.”
Why it might not work: As is the case with Moss, the Patriots need to get younger at wide receiver, and signing a 33-year-old like Wayne isn’t a good way to do that. While on the surface, he would appear to be a good fit in many respects, New England isn’t likely to pony up multiple years and a ridiculous signing bonus to get him — he’d probably have to take less money to come to the Patriots. It also depends on how the rest of the market shakes out. This is a very good year for high-end wide receivers: Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Marques Colston, Stevie Johnson, Dwayne Bowe and Wes Welker. And then, there’s the Peyton Factor. With the two of them having spent more than a decade together, some reports indicate that Wayne would follow Manning wherever the quarterback decided to land.
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