In his Sunday Football Notes, Greg A. Bedard of the Boston Globe laid out his "offseason to-do" list for the New England Patriots. In it, he wonders whether or not the Patriots should let go receiver Brandon Lloyd after one season:
We've addressed this before, but the Patriots have to be discussing the direction of the offense. If you take Welker out of the mix, they can tweak the offense only slightly, making Hernandez the slot receiver, and he and Gronkowski can rule the middle of the field.
If I'm the Patriots, I let Welker walk, I don't pay Brandon Lloyd's $3 million option (making him a free agent), and I use that money to find the best X receiver on the market to threaten defenses down the left sideline. Lloyd was close, but not quite the right guy. He could also come in the draft if the Patriots can identify, for the first time since Deion Branch and David Givens in 2002, a real talent.
While Lloyd may not have had a Pro Bowl caliber season, I think his modest total salary of $4.9 million makes him worth keeping around. Things didn't click with Lloyd and Brady the way they did with Randy Moss in 2007, but I don't think you can really expect that from every receiver. And perhaps it was just me, but it seemed that Lloyd and Brady's chemistry really seemed to improve down the stretch.
Subtracting the Miami game - which Lloyd barely played in as he rested for the playoffs - Brady and Lloyd connected 35 times in their final five games. They seemed to develop a better chemistry on the short to intermediate routes, but also connected on the deep ball multiple times.
I think finding a cost-effective deep threat that could be more productive than Lloyd will be a challenge for the Patriots. And there's risk involved there too - whatever receiver the Patriots did invest in might not develop the desired chemistry with Brady either.