Wayne has signed a one-year deal to join the Patriots, the team announced. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports the deal is worth up to $2.8M, including incentives, and a $450K signing bonus, according to a source involved.
Wayne had been hoping for one last chance in the NFL, and the 36-year-old will get it with the defending champions at a receiver position with a ton of questions.
Bill Belichick has always talked up Wayne's smarts as an opponent, and he fits the profile of many of the late career veterans the Patriots have tried over the years. (Think Junior Seau or Fred Taylor.) Wayne is far from a lock to make the team, but there is an opportunity because the Patriots have been decimated by injuries at receiver over the last month.
Julian Edelman has been out for weeks, while fellow starter Brandon LaFell remains on the physically unable to perform list. Backups Aaron Dobson and Brian Tyms are dealing with injuries, while Brandon Gibson was put on injured reserve Monday. It's telling that Tom Brady's only two completions in the Patriots second preseason game were to Jimmay Mundine and Dion Lewis. Brady has gone three-and-out five straight drives in the preseason.
"He has a lot of versatility, and certainly a lot of experience so we'll just have to see how it goes," Belichick said on WEEI Monday.
Wayne is the definition of a flier. He could be a great match mentally with Brady, but it's highly questionable whether he can still play physically at a high level. Wayne was not moving well late last season, and the Colts ultimately didn't show a lot of interest in keeping him in Indianapolis. The Patriots decided to take the plunge with Wayne after giving him a physical; Wes Welker has not received a sniff from the team.
The signing probably comes too late in Wayne's career to make much of an impact for the Patriots. New England also showed interest in him back in 2012 before Chuck Pagano, at the time a new coach, convinced Wayne to stay with the Colts. In the meantime, Wayne set the franchise all-time record in games played.
"Happy for (Wayne)," Vinatieri said Monday via the Indianapolis Star. "To me, he's still the quintessential Colt and will be forever and ever."
As Vinatieri knows, very little in the NFL lasts forever.