The New England Patrtiots have had a somewhat newsworthy off-season thus far. From Baltimore Ravens safety stating at the Super Bowl that he would not mind playing for Bill Belichick, to the never-ending chronicles with Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski, to Tom Brady taking a home town discount in his contract restructuring; there has been no shortage of topics in the first full month of the NBFs off-season.
The latest development of note centers around wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. Last spring, the Patriots signed the acrobatic wide out to a three year $12 million contract and had visions of his talents taking attention off of top receiver Wes Welker and their duo of tight ends. Instead, New England found his play on the field and his attitude in the locker room to be less endearing than they could have expected.
With these matters in mind, rumors of late have centered on the Patriots considering severing ties with the talented Lloyd. Given the free agent status of their other receivers (Welker, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman) and the injury concerns with Gronkowski, letting go of Lloyd is a greater sign of their lack of interest in dealing with his off the field issues than their current need for receiving depth. In fact, if Lloyd is cut, the only player on the paid roster with any experience playing with Brady is special teams talent Matthew Slater.
In fact, the New England Patriots depth chart was recently found to be missing Lloyd from their receiving corps. Now that the depth chart on the Patriots’ website has been corrected, the media attention to this omission is something the team hopes to avoid.
With a salary bonus of $3 million due to the former 49ers, Redskins, Bears, Rams and Broncos receiver in March, a decision on his startus will certainly be made soon. Severing ties with Lloyd will save the team $3 million of his $4 million 2013 salary; with only his signing bonus obligated to him.
Such a bold move could have a positive impact on the team. With the salary cap space alloted by Brady’s contract restructuring and their other players yet signed, the Patriots could target an elite, field spreading wide recveiver to replace Lloyd. Players like Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh), Greg Jennings (Green Bay) and Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City) are currently among the top unrestricted free agents on the market; giving New England several options to upgrade their receiving talent.
If those names prove to be unattainable, the Patriots could still add talent to Brady’s targets. Brian Hartline (Miami), Danny Amendola (St. Louis), and Braylon Edwards (NY Jets) are players who present some issues, either off the field or being healthy to remain on it.
With the NFL draft less than 60 days away and free agency underway, it is clear that the Patriots are going to be active this spring and summer; as their window of Super Bowl opportunity remains open.
Multi-Sport Columnist for TitleTown Sports
Co-Host of “The Jungle” at TitleTown Sports Radio Network