NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The worst kept secret in free agency became reality on Saturday as the New England Patriots signed former St. Louis Rams and Denver Broncos receiver Brandon Lloyd, albeit a couple days later than anticipated.
The move which seemed like a formality leading up to the beginning of the free agent signing period took longer than expected as the Patriots waited for Lloyd’s price to drop. Lloyd had been effusive that he wanted to play “where ever Josh McDaniels went” and the most important thing to him would be “who was throwing him the ball”. The Patriots and Lloyd were finally able to agree to terms on Saturday giving Patriots that much needed play making WR that they sorely lacked throughout last year.
Lloyd split his time between the Denver Broncos and St. Louis Rams last season, amassing 70 catches for 966 yards and 5 TDs despite playing with some very shaky QBs. In 2010 Lloyd enjoyed a breakout season in Josh McDaniels offense. Lloyd lead the NFL in receiving yards with 1, 448 while also hauling in 11 TD receptions. Lloyd is likely to fill the outside WR position in New England.
Lloyd will give the Patriots another legitimate receiving threat and should add another dimension to an already dynamic passing attack. Lloyd is a highly skilled player who has great hands, is known for making highlight reel catches, has tremendous route running ability and is already familiar with the Patriots playbook. The Patriots had hoped that Chad Ochocinco would be able to fill that role last season, but the marriage just didn’t work out. Ochocinco struggled mightily to learn the complex playbook and just couldn’t get on the same page as QB Tom Brady.
The lack of speed at WR really hurt the Patriots at times during the 2011 season. The team become so reliant on Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez getting open, that if an opposing team was able to shut those three down the Patriots offense would struggle. Deion Branch is a favorite of Tom Brady and understands the offense better than anyone, but he has lost more than a step. Looking back, it probably cost the Patriots the Super Bowl, by not having a WR who could create separation and get open on his own. Fans won’t have to worry about a repeat of the Chad Ochocinco situation as Lloyd has excelled and revived his career in Josh McDaniels’ offense.
Lloyd has bounced around NFL from San Francisco to Washington to Chicago, but failed to live up to expectations. When Josh McDaniels was hired as the Broncos head coach, he brought Lloyd in and he flourished in the system. It’s rare for someone to enjoy a breakout year seven years into their NFL career, but Lloyd broke out in a big way. McDaniels thought highly enough of Lloyd that when he was fired as Broncos coach and then hired to be the offensive coordinator in St. Louis, he stumped for the Rams to trade for Lloyd. Lloyd immediately became the best WR in St. Louis and enjoyed success despite major injuries at QB. When Josh McDaniels was hired as the offensive coordinator in New England, speculation began immediately about Lloyd coming to New England.
Many expected Lloyd to sign immediately on Tuesday afternoon, however it seems that Lloyd being so forthcoming about his desire to play in New England actually hurt him. The Patriots held all the leverage in negotiations, making it possible for Bill Belichick to wait him and his agent Tom Condon out. LLoyd did take a visit to San Francisco. That visit however, was rumored to be a smokescreen done as a favor to Tom Condon to drive the interest and price up on Lloyd. It didn’t work as Bill Belichick held his ground and ultimately the two sides were able to come to an agreement on Saturday.
The Patriots finally got their WR and Lloyd finally got his team.