Reggie Wayne signing just a stopgap for Patriots
The New England Patriots signing Reggie Wayne is a bit of an unexpected move. The declining Wayne struggled last year and was unusually inconsistent, even considering the fact that he was coming back from injury.
Wayne graded out relatively poorly, earning a -12.2 last year. The best parts of his game over the years were always his consistency and sure hands, but his nine drops last year were an indicator that his play was slipping.
A player’s age tends to show up more toward the end of seasons, when bodies are tired, sore, and beat up, and simply can’t operate the same as they used to. The Colts were obviously aware of Wayne’s declining play, as his targets started to drop throughout the season. He had a couple of games early with over 10 targets, but as the season wore on he was lucky if he got five or more. He was almost non-existent against New England in the championship game.
For all of these reasons, this move by the Patriots seems to be more of a stop-gap. But that doesn’t mean Wayne can’t still provide some help. They went for a receiver who they know can pick up the playbook quickly and will be where QB Tom Brady expects him to be. That can lead to quite a year for Wayne, if he can stay healthy, as Brady is willing to share the ball if he develops a level of trust with a receiver. But Wayne’s performance last season is a clear indicator that he could wear down as the season goes along.