FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On Aug. 18, 2006, the New England Patriots signed 37-year-old linebacker Junior Seau to a one-year contract to fill a short-term need. The questions that day were similar to the ones being asked today -- Aug. 24, 2015 -- as the club has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with 36-year-old wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
How much does he have left? Can he really help the team? Why couldn't they have done this five years ago?
Seau ended up playing parts of the next four seasons with the Patriots, an example of how coach Bill Belichick sometimes has a unique knack for squeezing out a final season (or four) out of end-of-career veterans. Seau was no longer the every-down player he was over most of his 13 seasons with the Chargers, but he filled an important role nonetheless.
I see the addition of Wayne through a similar lens.
Best-case on-field scenario is that it's Seau, Part 2.
Worst-case on-field scenario it doesn't work out and the club is forced to rely on younger players earlier than it normally would like to.
The Patriots' evolving need at the position has been well documented at this point, which led them to turn up their pursuit of Wayne over the past 24-36 hours, so let's focus more on what he might bring.
Wayne (6 feet, 203 pounds) is extremely intelligent; thus, learning the Patriots' voluminous playbook shouldn't be much of a problem like it was with Joey Galloway (2009) and Chad Ochocinco (2011), among others. He has played in the slot and outside, which is flexibility the club values, as it likes to move players around liberally. He catches the ball well and has played in big games.
No one is saying Wayne is the player he once was, but if he can contribute in a part-time role (say, 20-30 snaps per game), that would be Seau-like and exactly what the Patriots are looking for.