Bills Land Cousin of Legendary NFL Wide Receiver in Free Agency

Jalen Wayne

Getty Jalen Wayne runs after catching a pass at the NFL combine.

The Buffalo Bills made some major additions to their offense at this year’s NFL Draft, and quickly went to work adding more firepower after the draft ended — including the cousin of an NFL legend.

NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero reported late on April 29 that the Bills signed undrafted free agent Jalen Wayne, the cousin of former Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne. Jalen Wayne was a standout at South Alabama and seen as a potential late-round draft pick, but fell out of the draft and was snagged by the Bills within hours after the draft ended.

Wayne is coming off a strong career at South Alabama, where he made 152 receptions for 1,979 yards with 14 touchdowns.

Jalen Wayne Shared Special Connection to ‘Father Figure’

As the Colts team website noted, Jalen and Reggie Wayne grew close in recent years despite sharing a more distant family connection. The two are second cousins, but Jalen didn’t learn about their relationship until he was watching Super Bowl XLI as a 7-year-old and saw Peyton Manning throw a touchdown to Reggie Wayne.

Jalen noticed that they had the same last name, and learned that the two were actually related. They connected once Jalen Wayne started college, with Reggie serving as a mentor and father figure.

“He was just preparing me for everything that was going to happen, everything that was going to come my way and just make sure I was prepared for it,” said Jalen Wayne, who said he called Reggie his “uncle.”

“Just be confident and be myself. He told me to have fun with this process and enjoy everything. And when it’s time to be a ball player, be a ball player.”

Jalen Wayne added that he hopes to someday make the NFL and aspires to match some of his uncle’s accomplishments.

“He’s a guy I can look up to and chase as far as record books and stats and all that, so it’s good to have him in my corner,” Jalen Wayne said. “I told him that my main goal is chasing him when I get in the NFL. That’s a good standard to live by.”

Jalen Wayne Has Chance to Earn Role With Bills

Wayne joins a Bills team that has made some big investments into the offense, using their first-round draft pick on tight end Dalton Kincaid and grabbing Florida wide receiver Justin Shorter with their fifth-round pick.

While Wayne may have a battle to make the final roster, The Draft Network noted that he has the potential to make a big impact in the NFL after playing a less conventional role at South Alabama.

“During his freshman season and bleeding into his sophomore year, Wayne was used in many different roles on offense. He got carries, was put in as a TE, and also played wideout,” the analysis noted. “With Wayne’s long arms, size, and downhill speed, he possesses some intriguing traits that, in the right circumstance, could see him being productive in the NFL. Wayne statistically saw his production improve every season.”