Super Bowl Champion Wideout Explains Why He Once Rejected Lions in Free Agency

Reggie Wayne

Getty Reggie Wayne during a Colts ceremony in 2018.

The Detroit Lions have had a history of trying to get veteran players into the mix, and they haven’t always been successful in doing so.

Reggie Wayne left the Indianapolis Colts after 14 years ahead of the 2015 season. He still wanted to play football, though, and one of the teams to reach out to gage his interest were the Lions. With Wayne’s former coach Jim Caldwell in the mix, it would be assumed the team would have caught his attention. That wasn’t the case when they offended Wayne right off the bat by simply asking for a workout.

Speaking in an interview with Dan Hellie on The Helliepod podcast, Wayne explained the intricacies of his career and touched on deciding to keep on playing as he aged. The discussion regarding the Lions and their overtures starts at the 33:20 mark.

Helliepod episode #8, Reggie WayneStory time with Reggie Wayne -The U. -Feeling heat as a Rookie w/ Colts -The Peyton Manning sideline shove and thinking he'd be cut -Shade on Lions & 2 weeks in New England -The Present and the new podcast "I am athlete"2020-05-26T21:02:32Z

“Detroit Lions, they called. The Detroit Lions actually wanted me to come in and work out. I said work out, you’re the Detroit Lions. I’m good. I got 14 years of working out that you can see. So I was like no I’m cool,” Wayne said to Hellie.

Eventually, Wayne signed with the New England Patriots. They also asked for a workout, and he was happy to give one to Bill Belichick because he was Bill Belichick, a successful coach with a proud franchise.

“At that point in your career, 14 years, you want to go to a contender,” he said to Hellie. Many predicted immediate success upon the 6 time Pro Bowler’s arrival.

Wayne didn’t end up sticking in New England long however, walking away and retiring before the year began. Mentally, he admitted to being spent.

As it turned out, the Lions were not a contender that season. They bottomed out and ended up going 7-9 to miss the playoffs a year after it had appeared they were ready to turn the corner. The front office that tried to sign Wayne was cleaned out, Bob Quinn was hired and Caldwell kept his job for a few more years before being removed himself.

The team asking Wayne for a workout itself wasn’t the problem. It’s standard procedure most years in free agency, especially for players who are aging or coming off injury. The Lions reputation itself seems to have prevented the team from even getting a look at the free agent in this case, which would likely hardly be the first time this happened in history.

Wayne’s thinking shows some of the bias that some players might have before agreeing to sign with the team. That’s something the team is trying to reverse.

Lions 2020 Offseason Decisions Ripped

Instead of signing former Colts, the Lions have now turned their attention to former Patriots players. Those decisions aren’t popular with some in the media. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell is ranking every offseason that has taken place across the league, and the Lions have placed extremely low. Barnwell had the Lions placing 29th in terms of their NFL competition. Barnwell was critical of the Detroit approach of going after former Patriots, saying the team is too reliant on someone else’s identity.

As for what the team could have done differently, it is as simple as avoiding signing members of the Patriots, something the team didn’t do.

“Resisted the urge to go after as many former Patriots as possible. The Collins deal is a mess, and under Belichick, the Patriots have exhibited the ability to develop players such as Shelton and Harmon into useful contributors. Patricia and Quinn are trying to buy them instead. If the Lions couldn’t trade down in the first round, they should have used their second-rounder on a position that’s tougher to fill than halfback.”

Detroit didn’t make a trade in the draft early on, and are depending on former Patriots to lead the turnaround. Whether or not all of this pays off will be decided on the field no matter what is written.

Another NFL Analyst Bashed Lions Offseason

ESPN analyst Kevin Seifert had a similar complaint about the Detroit offseason a few months back. In a piece breaking down some of the winners and losers of the free agency period, the Lions were identified as a loser, particularly because of their reliance on Patriots players.

Here’s a look at what Seifert wrote as a critique on the Lions approach:

“Meanwhile, the Lions — led by two former Patriots staffers in general manager Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia — guaranteed linebacker Jamie Collins $18 million, while also agreeing to terms with defensive tackle Danny Shelton and trading for defensive back Duron Harmon.

This isn’t so much a comment on the players themselves, but on the cockeyed and still unproven idea that there is some kind of magic sauce that comes with someone who has been in the Patriots’ program. Why can’t we just acknowledge that Patriots coach Bill Belichick has built a unique set of circumstances that routinely maximizes players in ways that aren’t likely to be replicated elsewhere? As a matter of team-building, giving an edge to people with a Patriots connection probably could cloud out more qualified candidates. Just stop it!”

In addition to the Lions, the Miami Dolphins were named as a loser for the same reason. Clearly, Matt Patricia is trying to institute his culture, and it will be interesting to see if this massive transplant ends up working for the team in 2020.

Ultimately, that will be how things are judged in the end, regardless of how many people are frustrated with the approach.

Lions Free Agency Signings

The Lions have reached reported free agency agreements with offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai, linebacker Jamie Collins, quarterback Chase Daniel and defensive lineman Nick Williams. Additionally, they’ve added Danny Shelton, Desmond Trufant and Jayron Kearse. They signed linebacker Reggie Ragland and Elijah Lee as well as wideout Geronimo Allison. Cornerback Darryl Roberts has been added as well. Duron Harmon is coming in via trade. The group upgrades some important spots on the team, and will help the Lions boost the spots that are most needed for 2020. The Lions have managed to get things going quickly and effectively this offseason in free agency to be able to try and reshape their team.

The Lions have had trouble luring players through the years as this story from Wayne shows, but this offseason, they’ve not struggled to land most of who they want. That’s true no matter what anyone thinks of the class.

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