2012 NFL Free Agents: New England Patriots Must Make Play for a Big-Time WR
Although much of the NFL's focus recently has been on the Combine and NFL Draft, free agency is getting ready to commence in full force.
The New England Patriots have many needs, mostly on the defensive side of the ball, but they also have a need at wide receiver.
If there was anything missing on the Patriots' offense last season, it was the lack of deep threat at wide receiver.
There are some big-name targets that could be available in free agency, so who are some players the Pats could go after?
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Brandon Lloyd and the New England Patriots seem like a perfect match.
Lloyd has a strong connection to new Patriots' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels from their time in Denver, and in St. Louis for a short time.
Lloyd has already speculated about joining the Pats:
I would like to entertain that and see where that goes. There’s no bones about that. I’ve been very successful in Josh McDaniels’ offense, I really admire Tom Brady, I admire that organization and how they run things over there, so I’d definitely be interested in hearing how I could possibly fit into that equation.
Lloyd would be a perfect fit on the outside for the Patriots, and would provide a deep threat to compliment Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker, assuming he is franchised.
The ball seems to be in New England's court; if they want Lloyd, they seem to have the upper-hand on the competition.
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Vincent Jackson has been one of the league's top deep-threat wide receivers in the past couple of seasons.
Jackson averaged 18.4 yards a catch for the Chargers in 2011, including 1,106 receiving yards with nine touchdowns.
Although he is the Chargers' best wide-out and playmaker, it doesn't appear like he will be franchise tagged by San Diego.
The Patriots have shown reluctance in the past to give big money to free agents, but if they are willing to shell out the necessary cash, they could get Tom Brady one of the best wide-outs in the game.
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Marques Colston is an interesting option for the Patriots.
Colston has thrived under the Saints' high-powered offense the past couple of seasons, and the Patriots' offense would be benefit from having a receiver used to the high-pass offense.
Last season, Colston put up over 1,100 yards receiving and eight touchdowns during Drew Brees' record-setting season.
Colston wouldn't be losing much by going from New Orleans to New England in terms of production, so he could be intrigued by the prospect of playing with another Hall-of-Fame quarterback.
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Reggie Wayne might not be what he used to be, but he still has the ability to be a fantastic wide receiver.
Wayne has reaped the benefits of catching passes from Peyton Manning for years, and now he could choose to play for another one of the game's best in Tom Brady.
Wayne doesn't have blazing speed, but his routes are crisp and he has the ability to get open down the field, or can be a possession wide-out.
Without Manning, Wayne saw a drop-off in production. But then again, who wouldn't, catching passes for Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky?
Wayne still put up almost 1,000 yards receiving and could flourish being the fourth option in the Patriots' offense.
He would get a lot of one-on-one coverage on the outside because of the attention paid to the tight ends and Welker, allowing him to get down the field.