The New England Patriots decided not to keep Brandon Lloyd and his $3 million option, and no team in the NFL has decided to sign Lloyd since then. In fact, it seems like Lloyd has received no tangible interest on the free agent wire, and part of that has to do with character concerns stemming from his days with the Denver Broncos and even with the Patriots. I believe these concerns are overblown and were only a small part of the equation, and I took a close look at Lloyd’s issues in this piece.
New England Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd (85) reacts after a first down in the fourth quarter during the AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Texans 41-28. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
With the loss of Aaron Hernandez, turnover and uncertainty at the wide receiver position, and even concerns over the health of Rob Gronkowski, some are wondering whether or not the Patriots should bring back Brandon Lloyd. My belief is that Lloyd is not returning after likely burning bridges and not being as productive as the 74 catches and 911 yards he recorded seem to indicate. Aaron Dobson isn’t as sure of a producer as Lloyd is, but I believe he clearly has the better chance of being a true No. 1 wide receiver in this offense.
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss was asked in his mailbag some comparative questions about Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch, and he obviously stated that Lloyd is the better player than Branch. I did find it interesting, though, that Reiss believes Branch has a better chance of re-signing with the Patriots than Lloyd does. Branch has a better connection with Tom Brady and seems much more willing to help out younger players like Dobson and Josh Boyce out as a veteran, but Branch has nothing left in the tank.
When I watched Branch last season, the player I saw wasn’t even close to the player I saw in 2004. He couldn’t get open and just about the only thing he provides to the team is experience and all those intangibles from a veteran. I love Branch, but I don’t see the point in bringing him back. He has at the point in his career where he is “done”, and the Patriots have enough depth at wide receiver. Would you really want to keep him over Donald Jones or even Michael Jenkins? Because I definitely wouldn’t, looking at how those players played last season. And for all that I have said about Brandon Lloyd in criticizing him (I can’t believe I used to defend his play in the regular season), I must say that I would rather have his production back over Branch’s intangibles even if I love Branch and haven’t been a fan of Lloyd’s.