FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Reggie Wayne said he was talking to several NFL teams before deciding to sign a one-year contract with the New England Patriots.
“There were a lot of serious calls, from some good teams, but I felt like this was the best place,” Wayne said Tuesday before joining his new team for his first practice.
“I’m excited about the transition. I’ve got so much work ahead of me. I’m sitting here at my locker now cramming. It’s been some years since I’ve had to cram. This is something new for me, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Asked why New England was the right fit for him, Wayne said, “I want to win, point blank.”
For Wayne, who has played all 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and will be 37 in November, the signing is a fresh start. There’s a lot of work to be done after signing at this point in the preseason.
“I knew I was going to be behind the 8-ball. I was sitting at home in Miami and constantly getting that itch, and the longer I waited the harder it was going to be. I think it’s right on time and I’ve got to go back to school and try to figure all this out.”
Coach Bill Belichick called Wayne one of the best route runners in the game.
“If that’s what he said about me, I’m on the other side saying he’s one of the best to ever do it in the coaching form,” Wayne said.
“I’ve coached him in Pro Bowls and those kinds of situations,” Belichick said. “This is obviously different, we’ll see how it goes, but glad we have him, excited to have him on the team. I think he can help us, but we’ll see.”
Wayne said he was injured all last season, when he battled triceps and groin injuries in a career-worst season of 64 catches for 779 yards and two touchdowns.
He enters the regular season seventh all time in the league in receptions and eighth in receiving yards, with 82 touchdowns. In the postseason, he is second in catches, fourth in yardage and tied for seventh in touchdowns.
“I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m excited for the challenge,” he said. “All the guys have welcomed me with open arms. It should be sweet.
“I know what I can do. I know what I’m capable of. I’m grateful for this opportunity and that the New England Patriots organization has welcomed me in.”
His new teammates are impressed with what he has accomplished.
“A guy like that, with the career he’s had, you respect a guy like that for the things that he’s done in the league and the way he goes about his business,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. “I haven’t met him yet, but just his reputation speaks for itself for a guy that is always working hard and doing whatever it takes to help the team.”
Added safety Devin McCourty: “He’s a great player. Any time you can add a veteran player that’s made a ton of plays throughout his career I think is not just good for the offense but for the overall locker room. Obviously we’ve heard great things about him and gotten to watch him play, so I think everybody’s excited to have him here.”
Wayne, who has caught passes from both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, now moves on to Tom Brady.
“I’m excited. I really am,” he said of now being with Brady. “One of the best to ever do it. Tom has definitely welcomed me here. It’s outstanding, man. Not everybody can say that they’ve had this journey I’ve had. I’m excited about it and looking forward to it.”
Wayne, known for his No. 87 in Indianapolis, comes to a team that already has a pretty good No. 87 — tight end Rob Gronkowski. That’s fine with Wayne, who will wear No. 15.
“New place. New journey, new path, new number,” he said. “He can have ; 87, for me, is over with.”
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