In a somewhat surprising move, the New England Patriots and Reggie Wayne came to terms on a one-year contract today. The 14-year Colt, who was desirous of playing one last year, will do so for a team considered to be Indy’s arch nemesis.
The Patriots have endured another long off-season as Tom Brady’s four-game suspension has been upheld by the league and is now being fought in court. To make matters worse, their decimated receiver corps has done nothing to elicit any excitement for the year to come and is badly in need of an upside catalyst.
The 36-year old Wayne adds veteran leadership quality to the likes of both slot specialist Julian Edelman and the resurgent Brandon LaFell. With only injury prone Danny Amendola currently healthy this preseason, Wayne should have an opportunity to see action immediately while he fights for field time in both three and four receiver sets come the regular season.
While it’s hard to get overly excited at the prospects for Wayne given his advancing age and late addition to the team, there does remain potential. This is no Randy Moss-like signing for the Patriots, but Wayne will be one more year removed from his ACL injury and could post numbers making him at least roster worthy for a dynasty team desperate for receiving help. It’s just hard to expect more than, say, 40-50 catches, 600 yards and a few touchdowns along the way, even in a best case scenario.
Let’s take a brief look at how those around him may be impacted.
Tom Brady/Jimmy Garoppolo, QBs
Nothing but added value for whichever quarterback is under center. Wayne brings a veteran presence that cannot be ignored when on the field and while his deep skills are likely a distant memory, his savvy route running is a perfect fit for Brady’s pinpoint accuracy on deep outs and comeback routes. The combination of Wayne, Edelman and LaFell will be difficult for opposing defenses to deal with in the short and intermediate passing game.
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Julian Edelman, WR
While others may disagree, I like the potential of both Wayne and Edelman working from the same side on game day. The Patriots are masters at the use of creative sets, rub and crossing routes to confuse defenses and the pairing of Edelman and Wayne should provide for more quality receptions, especially for Edelman. Expect Edelman to still make his money on his short and deep slants while Wayne works more toward the sideline.
Danny Amendola, WR
Amendola’s value is far more tied to his weekly injury status than that of Wayne’s signing. He is often moved around the formation and usually works in tandem with Edelman so the question as to how Wayne’s presence will impact him won’t be answered until the season kicks off. I expect little-to-no impact unless the Patriots elect to get Wayne on the field in four receiver sets at the expense of Amendola – that seems doubtful.
Brandon LaFell, WR
Should Wayne be six years younger, I might fear for LaFell’s status but that not being the case, there’s little value loss here. LaFell remains a quality outside threat while on the field and he’ll compete for third most in targets after Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. LaFell owners have little to be concerned about here in terms of Wayne coming to town to steal targets. The main concern with LaFell is still his phantom-like undisclosed injury, though most feel it’s really nothing major.
Aaron Dobson, WR
Camp reports have been mixed on Dobson, but the Wayne signing likely ensures that there won’t be many Dobson sightings in weeks to come. Brian Tyms, as of today, has been released and Dobson is going to be on a short leash himself. Luckily, youth is on his side.
Josh Boyce, WR
The streaky and inconsistent Boyce is being groomed as Edelman’s replacement but isn’t nearly the consistent or reliable threat Edelman has proved to be. He’ll likely stick on the roster but isn’t impacted by Wayne’s addition as much as he is given his inconsistent play and limited upside.
Brian Tyms, WR
Tyms flashed on occasion but couldn’t shake the injury bug and was waived on Monday. His best bet would be as an addition to the practice squad but there is no guarantee that will come to pass.
Brandon Gibson, WR
There will be no resurrected value for Gibson this season as he was placed on injured reserve today and also lost for the year, thus further necessitating the signing of Wayne.
Rob Gronkowski, TE
No impact here. Gronk’s position as the top tight end in fantasy is safe and sound.
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