ESPN's Field Yates has reported the contract the New England Patriots have signed with wide receiver Reggie Wayne and it implies a heavy involvement for the aging veteran.
Reggie Wayne contract: $450SB, $1.1M base salary Per game roster bonuses: $750k total 55 recs - $250K 65 recs - $500k Maximum value: $2.8M— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 26, 2015
For context, Wayne collected 64 receptions last season.
What does this contract imply? For starters, Wayne is a roster lock. The $450k signing bonus edges veteran cornerback Tarell Browns's $400k signing bonus.
Looking at the reception bonuses, these are clear milestones based on Wayne's prior production, and they also point to Wayne's potential utility in the offense.
There have been 28 receivers to crack 55 catches in a single season under Bill Belichick. Over the past five seasons, 11 players have reached the 55 reception milestone. The Patriots can look to have roughly 2-3 players hit the 55 reception point.
Still looking at the past five seasons Wes Welker hit the mark for three years and Julian Edelman for the past two seasons. Rob Gronkowski has hit the milestone in three of the past four years (his injured 2013 the only exception). Brandon LaFell was the third receiver to crack 55 catches last season, and Brandon Lloyd made it in 2012.
Belichick has never had four players reach 55+ receptions in a single season. For full disclosure, in three of the past four seasons, a fourth player has reached the 50-54 reception range (Shane Vereen, 2014; Aaron Hernandez, 2012; Deion Branch, 2011).
If Edelman and Gronkowski play full seasons, that means they're basically locks to be the team's top two targets. If the Patriots continue to function as a high octane-passing attack, there might be room for two more players to collect 55+ receptions. The obvious implication is that if Wayne is to meet his reception incentives, he'll have to be the third or fourth target in the Patriots offense.
Will Wayne pass Brandon LaFell? Will he be more involved than Danny Amendola? What is the perceived role for Scott Chandler? Will James White or Dion Lewis step up and personally fill Vereen's old role? There's a major competition for these top spots. If Wayne wants to maximize his contract value, he'll have to help answer these questions.