Former New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd remains the best free agent wideout available, but the telling thing is that Lloyd is still available. Nobody has shown interest in Lloyd, despite the rumors that the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens had interest (neither rumor was true). Lloyd is 31, but he should be able to find work as a No. 3 wide receiver and a No. 2 option at best. People point to the fact that he caught over 70 passes last season as a justification for him being “not that bad”, but the truth is that he wasted a ton of targets in the Patriots offense and just could not gain separation. There are worse receivers out there (which is why Lloyd will find a gig), but the Patriots would have been paying him $5 million to be an average player with character issues.
Yes, the character issues are real. From ESPN Boston’s Field Yates, “ The Patriots, and any NFL team, always want a harmonious locker room, but now would seem to be a time when the Patriots are particularly interested in finding players who fit among the rest of the team. By that token, if Lloyd’s behavior did in fact play a part in the team’s decision to release him previously, we wouldn’t expect a reunion.”
My belief is that Lloyd’s issues were only a small piece of the pie, and I completely agree with Yates that money was the big issue. The Patriots simply weren’t going to spend $5 million on an older receiver who just couldn’t get it done in the No. 1 role. Aaron Dobson has a chance to be that true “X” receiver for the Patriots, but the issue with most of the Pats receivers is that they aren’t known commodities. However, they are cheaper than Lloyd, and they are younger; those are the two most important things. The only way I see Lloyd back in a Pats uniform is if the team feels desperate at the position, and I don’t envision that happening. What Yates shares with us is interesting, and it is something I am very much in agreement with.
Mike Rodak’s “Bubble Watch” series continues on ESPN Boston, and he took a look at fan favorite safety Nate Ebner today. Ebner is a core special teamer and depth safety on the team, and his roster spot appears to be safe despite being far from guaranteed. Rodak tabs Ebner with a 65% chance of making the roster, and I have the Patriots keeping five safeties in Devin McCourty, Adrian Wilson, Tavon Wilson, Duron Harmon, and Nate Ebner. The top three is safe for obvious reasons (talent), the Pats aren’t going to cut a third-round pick, and Ebner will make it over Steve Gregory since he is significantly cheaper.