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RUMOR: Patriots Connected to ex-Colts Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne

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The New England Patriots have been linked to free agent wide receiver Reggie Wayne.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

It wouldn't be the first time that Bill Belichick brings in one of the players he's adored from afar. Hopefully it would turn out a little better than with Chad Ochocinco.

Reggie Wayne is one of the top 10 receivers of the past fifteen years, but he's definitely in his twilight. He wasn't able to provide much value to the Colts as a 2nd receiver last season- behind T.Y. Hilton- and finished with his least productive season since 2002. 27% of his yards came in two games against the Titans. He will be 37 years old.

Of course, Belichick loves Wayne and it wouldn't be too much of a surprise to see the receiver join the New England Patriots.

"He's still really good at everything," Belichick said in a press conference prior to last season's game.  "[He's] obviously a real smart and experienced guy; knows how to set up routes, make all of his routes look the same, does a great job of releasing and then at the top of his routes being able to create separation at just the right time when the quarterback is ready to throw."

We all know that route running is important for the Patriots offense and that's why Ochocinco never panned out.

"He's been a key guy for them in critical situations and third down-type situations," Belichick continued. "I'm sure that there's a lot of confidence that he's going to be open and he usually is. Excellent hands; made a lot of tough catches."

Belichick sees Wayne as a Deion Branch sort of character- one who the quarterback always can count on at the crucial moment.

"They move him around," Belichick said. "He plays a decent amount in the slot, but also out on the perimeter where we saw him for so many years in their former offensive system. But he's probably a little more in the slot now with [Hakeem] Nicks and [T.Y.] Hilton outside. But they move all those guys around so finding him is a problem. He's still a very dangerous receiver, clutch player and a guy who really, when they need a play, they're not afraid to go to him and he'll deliver for them."

Belichick views Wayne as a reliable and versatile route runner and receiver. He played his whole career in the AFC South (who just so happen to be on the Patriots schedule this season). The Patriots were the final team in the running to sign Wayne back in 2012, before he signed a three-year deal with the Colts. He knows he's been wanted in the past. Is that desire still here?

Wayne would be the fourth receiver on the depth chart, behind Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and Danny Amendola. He could possibly beat out Amendola. But Wayne also provides zero special teams value, and that's where Amendola gets his edge. Wayne is likely only an option if Aaron Dobson and Brian Tyms show little development this offseason.

Of the teams showing interest, the Packers make little sense. They have their top three receivers in Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams. They also drafted Ty Montgomery in the 3rd round of this past draft, and have two receivers from the 2014 draft to account for. It doesn't really seem that Wayne has space, and he's likely included because he wants a chance at a ring.

The Ravens make plenty of sense as they're a contender and they know how to use the veteran receivers. Steve Smith found the Fountain of Youth in Baltimore. Beyond Smith and 1st round pick Breshad Perriman, the wide receiver depth chart isn't set in stone.

The Texans also make some sense as the two AFC South teams could swap their all-time former-University of Miami wide receivers. The Texans have DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver, and then a hodgepodge of other receivers. Can 3rd round pick Jaelen Strong be counted on? How trustworthy are Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington? This could either be a very quality possession offense (which Wayne would fit into), or just a total disaster. And there's no proven quarterback on the roster.

If I were whispering in Wayne's ear, the Ravens would make the most sense, followed by the Patriots, Texans, and then the Packers. With the Patriots and Ravens as the top two teams, in my view, it's unlikely that Wayne will be signed for Week 1 because that would cause his veteran's contract to fully guarantee. These two teams are too active in cap management for Wayne to receive a fully guaranteed contract.

Wayne wants to play for one more season for a contender. He tore his ACL in 2013.