2012 NFL Free Agents: Brandon Lloyd and the Patriots Close to a Deal?

Cian FaheyFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - JANUARY 1: Brandon Lloyd #83 of the St. Louis Rams rolls out of bounds after making a catch against the San Francisco 49ers at the Edward Jones Dome on January 1, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The 49ers beat the Rams 34-27.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

After plenty of talk about the Patriots possibly signing Danny Amendola and then the revelation that the team was the runner-up for Reggie Wayne's signature, the New England Patriots appear to finally have found a receiver with whom a deal is imminent.

Brandon Lloyd was never shy about his desire to reunite with Josh McDaniels in New England and it appears that he is going to get his wish.

While it seems like the most predictable of moves this off-season, even more predictable than Dan Snyder overpaying someone again, there was some doubt that this deal would get done as Lloyd visited the San Francisco 49ers.

Despite previously making it seem like he would sign for the Patriots for less money than he would get elsewhere, the Patriots also appeared uninterested in his signature throughout the first week of free agency. In fact, they seemed to have no interest in doing anything.

That all became pretty clear why when Reggie Wayne signed for the Colts, however.

Unlike Amendola and Wayne, Lloyd fits the bill perfectly for the Patriots as he brings a lot of speed and explosion to the outside. Lloyd is a proven No. 1 receiver with some of the softest hands in football.

Simply his ability to stretch the field would be a major upgrade for the team over their receiving corps last year. Lloyd's presence on the field would add another dimension to the Patriots' offense, as their attack would take on a form never previously seen with Tom Brady at the helm.

While in 2007, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth gave Brady his most dynamic receiving corps ever. The combination of Kyle Brady and Ben Watson were only average tight ends with a poor running back, Laurence Maroney, in the backfield.

This year's version of the offense is a matchup nightmare for defenses, presuming Lloyd re-signs.

Instead of having two average tight ends, the Patriots' duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are the best in the league. Not only are they the best in the league, they have somewhat changed the way the game treats the tight-end position because of their unprecedented levels of success.

Last season, teams would enter games focused on shutting down the two tight ends and simply dealing with the wide receivers after that. In prior years, it was always the opposite when facing off against the better offenses in the NFL.

Another upgrade over 2007 is at the running back position. While BenJarvus Green-Ellis could potentially leave via free agency, the Patriots still have two highly drafted running backs from last season—Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley—to go along with the remaining veteran Danny Woodhead.

Woodhead, Ridley and Vereen aren't all-stars, but they are matchup problems when featuring in the Patriots' offense.

Lloyd's presence on the field for the Patriots prevents teams from forgetting about the team's receivers. Last year, you could live with Deion Branch and Wes Welker catching a lot of footballs because they weren't going to burn you down the field for a big gain.

With Lloyd outside, the defense would be scared to leave him in single coverage because of his acceleration and sure-handedness. Lloyd is good enough to draw coverage, but then again, so is Wes Welker. So is Aaron Hernandez. So is Rob Gronkowski.

This is where Lloyd becomes a brilliant signing. On his own, he's just an above-average receiver who is capable of being a first choice on any offense. In the same scheme as Hernandez, Gronkowski and Welker, he becomes a colossal headache for offensive coordinators to try to figure out.

If the New England Patriots sign Brandon Lloyd, the team will basically be impossible to game-plan for.