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New England Patriots Analysis: Brandon Lloyd let go


The New England Patriots and Brandon Lloyd were trying to work on a contract reduction that would keep Lloyd in New England, but it sounds like talks fell apart. While 12th of March was circled on our calendars as the start of NFL Free Agency, the 16th of the month was circled as the day when Brandon Lloyd’s option would crop up. The Patriots already signed Donald Jones of the Buffalo Bills to, in my opinion, be Lloyd’s replacement in the offense, and apparently Jones has replaced Lloyd.

Per Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald yesterday, the Patriots released Lloyd in a move that has been rumored for about a month. Lloyd’s “erratic behavior” was just one part of the equation, and I think the Pats got rid of Lloyd because they want to go younger at the position. It is possible that the Pats could re-sign Lloyd for another year and just be off the hook for the $3 million option, so we’ll keep an eye on what happens to the best free agent wide receiver as of right now. Lloyd should be able to get a nice incentive-laden deal from somebody, so we’ll also keep an eye on that.

This offseason, it seems like the Patriots main goal at the wide receiver position is to get younger players. Now that Lloyd is gone, the Patriots will be more inclined to go after Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders, who is worth the third-round pick. Due to the Steelers cap issues, the Pats will get Sanders if they truly want him- they will give Sanders an offer sheet that the Steelers simply cannot match.

Losing Lloyd won’t hurt the team too much, but nobody will call this move an addition by subtraction. Lloyd was more than serviceable for the Patriots last season with 74 receptions for 911 yards and four touchdowns, and he was excellent down the stretch of the season after a subpar beginning to the year. The Patriots never brought in Lloyd to be a focal part of the offense or somebody to stretch the field- they wanted him to be a possession receiver and take pressure off of the middle of the field where the tight ends and Wes Welker were.

It will be interesting to see if Donald Jones is used in a similar fashion, but there is little doubt that Lloyd is clearly the better player. That’s why the Patriots wanted to bring back Lloyd on a reduced deal to help keep that solid production, but I bet Lloyd realized that he can get better. Either that, or both sides want to start things fresh on that point. Tom E. Curran tweeted yesterday that Lloyd had a 50/50 shot at staying in New England, and it looks like he’ll be gone.

I think this bodes well for Julian Edelman, who has seemingly received no attention on the free agent market but is currently one of the best available options on the market. The other wideouts have all been signed, so we’ll see if interest increases in Edelman. I still think he will be back in New England, but I was also wrong about Danny Woodhead likely staying with the Patriots.

I wouldn’t rule out a return for Lloyd on a fresh slate, but Lloyd’s time in New England is most likely done. That means the Patriots are not done with retooling their wide receiver corps, and I am excited to see the moves they will make in this youth movement. For some reason, I have this gut feeling that it is almost a guarantee that Emmanuel Sanders will be on the New England Patriots in 2013, and that’s a scary thought when you factor in the three terrific tight ends the Pats will have as well. If Lloyd wasn’t willing to come back on a cheaper deal, then I am completely fine with him being gone at this juncture. He did help the team out, but it sounds like Jones is a worthy, younger replacement as a poor man’s Lloyd. I would have liked to see Lloyd back on a reduced deal, but it didn’t seem like that would really happen. Or will it?

What do you guys think about the move to drop Lloyd?

You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.

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Tags: Brandon Lloyd Donald Jones Emmanuel Sanders New England Patriots