Poor Cleveland Brown: Is Reggie Wayne the Answer for the Cleveland Browns?
There are legends, and then there are Legends. Sometimes its hard to tell which are which.
As an example, Cleveland Brown is not a Legend. Nor is he a legend. But when you see a Legend, you never expect them to leave.
So it’s always surprising to see a Legend move on. And it’s even more surprising when the last team that Legend played football for wasn’t even in the NFL, but was the University of Miami way back on January 2, 2001 in the Sugar Bowl. The Legend I’m referring to, of course, is Reggie Wayne.
Wayne was the Indianapolis Colts’ surprise first round pick (30th overall) in the 2001 NFL Draft. The Colts were in the market for defense, so no one saw this coming. In fact, even Wayne remembered that before the draft he “[t]alked to every team but the Colts.”
Over his storied 14 year career with the Colts, Wayne won a Super Bowl, was selected to 6 Pro Bowls, and managed to amass 1,070 receptions and 14,345 receiving yards, good for 7th and 8th in the NFL All-Time, respectively. He’s also 2nd in franchise receiving yards, catches, and touchdowns. And last year, he surpassed Peyton Manning’s franchise record for games played and won with the Colts (209 and 142, respectively). Unfortunately, Wayne had a down year for a number of reasons, including a torn triceps that required surgery, which led to the Colts informing him this off season that he would not be re-signed.
Clearly, Wayne is a first ballot Hall of Famer. No doubt about it. And until recently, all indications were that if he didn’t return to the Colts, he wouldn’t be going anywhere else.
But after the announcement that the Colts wouldn’t be re-signing him, the story became much murkier, as there are indications that Wayne would entertain other opportunities:
Source: Reggie Wayne to consider offers + Andrew Luck tells me was "honor and privilege" to play w Wayne: http://t.co/efssnFi4YF
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) March 7, 2015
In fact, ESPN reported that Wayne was looking to re-sign with the Colts for one more year and then retire. So there’s at least the possibility that the reports are accurate and that Wayne would return for one more year. And many believe that Wayne can still be an asset:
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 7, 2015
I don't believe Reggie Wayne is a primary receiver anymore but I'll be surprised if he didn't get at least 5 calls today #NFL
— Shawne Merriman (@shawnemerriman) March 6, 2015
So the speculation train begins. If Reggie Wayne decides to return in 2015, where will he go? Clearly, the popular choice is Denver so he can be reunited with his old signal caller, Peyton Manning. But it got me thinking, why not the Cleveland Browns?
Honestly, as I’ve discussed previously, the Browns have serious issues at receiver. Sure, there are plenty of other issues as well, but the without Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, there are going to be serious holes in the receiving core.
So, why Reggie Wayne? Well, he’s a proven veteran, one who could help provide discipline, work ethic and significant football IQ to a relatively young group of receivers, including Travis Benjamin (4th season) and Taylor Gabriel (2nd season). Heck, even Andrew Hawkins, in his 5th season, could use a little veteran presence.
And perhaps most importantly, if the Browns sign a veteran like Wayne, drafting a top tier wide receiver in the first round might make sense. Previously, I felt the Browns should focus on drafting defense in the first round. But what better mentor than Wayne for a young Amari Cooper, Kevin White or DeVante Parker? It could be the cornerstone of many years to come for the Browns.
The Browns have plenty of cap space. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Browns have $50.2 million to play with this off season, the fourth most in the NFL. The question is what their going to do with it. Wayne won’t cost much and could provide a veteran presence in the locker room, in practice and on the field.
There’s always the concern that Wayne won’t want to come to Cleveland:
Former #Colts WR Reggie Wayne may not be retired just yet. Hearing he’s open to playing one more year — for a contender.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 7, 2015
And, unfortunately, according to Vegas, the Browns have 66 to 1 odds of winning the Super Bowl in 2015 (5th to last in the NFL). That’s not quite “contender” status if you ask me. But, hey, what better way to go out than being the beginning of the return of the Browns to the big time?
If the Browns can land him, as has been mentioned, Wayne has plenty left in the tank to be a difference maker on the field. And honestly, the Browns could use a few Legends right about now.