It was recently reported that Brandon Lloyd will most likely not return to the Patriots for the 2013 season. After reading different reports concerning Lloyd over the past few days I can say I am not at all surprised. When the off-season began I was one of the people that was adamantly hoping that Lloyd would be returning to the Pats. He had a good season (74 catches 911 yards) and seemed to have the right mindset for the Pats. However, I recently learned that Lloyd had a lot of off the field issues throughout the 2012 season. Coaches did not like some of his habits in the locker room and on the practice field. Most of the time when you have off the field issues with a Bill Belichick coached team, you will not be around for much longer. Lloyd was also very inconsistent on the field, as one week he would be phenomenal and the next he would not even show up. It is pretty disappointing because I think that with the right mindset Lloyd could really have flourished with Tom Brady in New England.
Now, this leaves the Pats in a very tricky situation at the wide receiver position. With Lloyd pretty much gone, the Pats have Kamar Aiken and Matthew Slater under contract at receiver for 2013. They really need to do some things if they hope to even be able to line up at receiver next season. I think that Welker will definitely be signed now, and I have heard that there is optimism that a three year deal will get done. The more pressing issue in my opinion is what to do for a solid receiver opposite of Welker. Julian Edelman is a very good player and I really hope the Patriots resign him, but I don’t think that he is a very good option to count on for an entire season as a starter on the outside. He is a great special team player, and a very solid third receiver in the offense but I think the Patriots need to find someone else to start on the outside.
There are three options in my mind, the first is to go after a big name guy through free agency. Dwayne Bowe is the main guy that I think the Pats would go after, he is a big physical guy that could bring a vertical presence that the Pats have not had since Randy Moss. Bowe has showed that throughout his career he can make very difficult catches and he is very good at taking the top off of a defense. Bowe will definitely demand a lot of money, and I am not sure the Patriots are the kind of team that would invest a lot of money in a position that is really a hit or miss position. For this reason I think that this is the last option for the Patriots when it comes to filling up the depth chart at the receiver position.
The second option is to draft some stud prospects in the NFL draft. I don’t like the Pats spending their first rounder on a receiver because as I said before it is a hit or miss position, and I think that there really isn’t a guy worth spending a first round pick on. However I do like the thought of going after that position in the second and third rounds. This years draft is very deep at every position and there are a lot of solid receiver prospects at every level of the draft. Two guys that I like at that point in the draft are Justin Hunter and Aaron Dobson. They both have good size and are the kind of players that the Pats could use to develop and maybe turn into a solid threat in the future. There is a level of risk when drafting receivers as high as the second and third round, and it is up to the team if they want to take that risk. I think that this is a pretty good option for the Patriots, but I don’t think it is the best.
The last and best option in my opinion is to sign “value” guys in free agency. Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com brought up a good point when he talked about the Pats going after David Nelson. He is a big receiver that would bring a physical presence on the outside that Lloyd never really brought to the Pats when he was here. Nelson also will be a very cheap investment for the Patriots, and if he does not work out then they cut him and lose relatively nothing. I think that the Patriots should go after a few guys like Nelson that would bring low risk high reward opportunities. We have seen many teams in recent years spend a ton of money on one guy in free agency and have that guy be a bust, and they have wasted a lot of money that could have been spent elsewhere. If the Pats go with the “value” route, then they will not have to worry about a player being a bust because they did not spend too much money on him to start with.
Whatever route the Pats go, I expect them to “refill” the receiver position the best way possible and give Brady a number of weapons to deal with once again in 2013. The Patriots have probably the best coach in the NFL, and one of the best front-offices. They have built three Super Bowl teams in the last 12 years and they have built five AFC Championship winning teams in that time, and all of ‘Patriot Nation’ should have faith in the decisions they make.
If you would like to know more about why Lloyd will most likely not return in 2013 give this article a read. http://www.csnne.com/blog/patriots-talk/why-brandon-lloyd-isnt-part-patriots-plans