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WR Reggie Wayne: Patriots told me to keep $450k signing bonus

HOUSTON -- When the New England Patriots signed veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne to a one-year, $2.8 million contract in August of 2015, the deal included a $450,000 signing bonus.

When Wayne and the Patriots parted ways 11 days later, one lingering question was what happened to the signing bonus.

"They told me to keep it," Wayne revealed Thursday at Super Bowl LI, where he is working as an analyst for NFL Network. "If they would have said 'We want it back,' I would have given it back. You find $1,000, and they say you can keep it, put it in your damn wallet."

With the Patriots at the Super Bowl, and NFL Network making its on-air talent available for interviews, Wayne was a popular target for Patriots-based reporters. He fielded multiple questions about why his tenure with the team didn’t work out, and rejected any suggestion that he walked away because he didn’t know the offense and wasn’t having fun.

"It was a point where I needed to get into my kids' life. Playing 14 years is enough. My wife, she was the All-Pro. It was time for family, man. It really was," he said. "I don’t regret the way it ended. It’s a dead end at some point in time. Not everybody can be Tom Brady, to keep playing."

Wayne was 36 at the time, and his family was based in Florida. Moving them to Massachusetts wasn’t a consideration because he and his wife didn’t want their kids to have to adjust to a new curriculum in school, and be forced to leave their friends.

As for the challenge of learning the Patriots’ offense, Wayne didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary.

"Listen, I’ve been playing football since I’ve been 7 years old. There are only so many route concepts you can make up. The only difference is learning the terminology," he said. "I went there, I worked out the 22nd or 23rd and I was with the starting offense on the 26th. I was only there for 11 days, so I’m sure there was more to it, but I was starting in three or four days. In the third preseason game, which is probably the most important preseason game, I was with the starting offense. So as far as me saying it was too hard, practice was too hard, whatever man."

As for suggestions the Patriots' culture wasn’t for him, he said, "It’s football. They can say all they want about it not being fun, but s---, look where they’re at, in the Super Bowl. They win games."