When Reggie Wayne wasn't on the practice field for the New England Patriots today, on the day that roster cuts were due, it raised some eyebrows and drew interest. And, indeed, the Patriots announced today that they have released Wayne - but it was after he requested it.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Been told Reggie Wayne asked Patriots to release him.</p>— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) <a href="https://twitter.com/mchappell51/status/640248325762101248">September 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
So what's next for Reggie Wayne? According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the expectation around the NFL is that he'll retire.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Expectation around the NFL is that former Patriots WR Reggie Wayne now will retire.</p>— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter/status/640255927636004864">September 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Of course, Schefter went on to note that Wayne would be willing to play again if the situation is right, but if that wasn't the Patriots, it's likely that he has a very specific situation in mind. And if that doesn't happen, it sounds like he might be ready to retire.
Regardless of his decision, I wouldn't expect anything to happen right away, as he'll likely keep his options open to see if the right situation arises. But it's also entirely possible that he has played his last game in the NFL. And asking for a release from the Patriots would give him the opportunity to sign a one-day contract to retire as a Colt whenever he is ready to do so.
I hope that Wayne gets to go out on his own terms. One of the all-time greatest Colts, Wayne received a lot of unjust criticism from Colts fans and the local newspaper, calling him a traitor. That was uncalled for, and I hope that Wayne gets to go out on his own terms no matter what that may be. Whether that's signing elsewhere and playing this year or whether that's calling it quits, I hope he makes his decision on his own and walks into the sunset the way that he wants to.
And the added bonus? We won't have to watch Reggie Wayne, one of the greatest Colts, in a Patriots jersey any longer.
Bill Belichick, who has long been a fan of Wayne, had high praise for the receiver despite only coaching him for less than two weeks. "Obviously, Reggie's time here was brief but it only confirmed what I already thought - he is a true professional who represents every positive attribute a player should emulate," Belichick said in a release sent out by the team. "Our parting was mutually agreed upon and I am personally grateful to have worked with one of the great NFL players of the past two decades."