Picking up Brandon Lloyd's $3 million option bonus looks to be a no-go for New England as they consider moving on without one of their top wideouts.
When the New England Patriots inked WR Brandon Lloyd to an incredibly modest and team-friendly deal prior to the 2012 season, many filed the move under the ever-growing list of "low risk, high reward" signings that have become the Patriots' staple. Lloyd, like many others before him, had a small handful of red flags to his name before his acquisition but possessed an undeniable talent. After all, Lloyd's most prolific seasons were with a recently returning Josh McDaniels at the helm, so the pairing made a lot of sense for both sides.
The Boston Globe's Greg Bedard thinks that Lloyd--despite notching an effective 911 yards on 74 catches and four touchdowns during the 2012 season--won't be retained when the Patriots take the knife to the roster's extra fat. According to Bedard, Lloyd's "erratic behavior in the locker room and on the practice field" is the team's main motive for not wanting to touch Lloyd's $3 million option bonus, a contract stipulation that gives the team an out if Lloyd's time with the team isn't as successful as originally hoped.
If Lloyd and the Patriots do end up parting ways, the team will save another $4.9 million against the cap this season. Couple that with Tom Brady's remarkably cap-friendly extension, and the Patriots have some wiggle room to court a few sought-after wideouts to stock up on waning receiver depth. With a contract for Wes Welker very likely in the works, the team looks to keep its core intact while continuing to search for that elusive receiver that can consistently complement him. Whether it happens through the draft, free agency or a little bit of both, the Patriots seemed to decide that Lloyd's extracirriculars were just too much of a headache to bear.
As for the team, the Patriots are now in a position of maximum maneuverability for the offseason. With Brady's extension clearing an estimated $8 million alone from this year's cap, the Patriots can now make a push to extend Aqib Talib and/or Sebastian Vollmer, have plenty of cash to sign their draft picks and still have enough left to make a splash in free agency. At first glance, Lloyd's departure is a head-scratcher for a team desperately lacking receivers to let one of their biggest contributors walk. With plenty of financial ammunition now at their disposal, however, the Patriots may already have their eyes set on much bigger fish.