Grading New England's Acquisition of Brandon Lloyd
I'm glad the Patriots made a move. Signing Brandon Lloyd wasn't a "splash" in the frenzied sense of the term, but it was a serious acquisition that could turn out to be profound. How profound? Undetermined. But still, they made a move and that was half the battle.
It isn't all roses. Acquiring Lloyd wasn't the biggest move the Patriots could've made, and it wasn't a surefire hit on the target. I have some questions, most notably surrounding the fact that the Patriots will be Lloyd's sixth team in a decade. In essence, Lloyd has failed to become permanent with any ball club. He's spent a career searching for a place to call home.
Wes Welker provides a good foil in this debate. Since 2007, the Patriots have been Welker's home, and it's clear that the people of New England feel a very personal connection to him.
Welker belongs to us. He belongs in New England. That's what combats all the negative arguments that are getting scrutinized during his contract negotiation. More than his production, it's his connection to the fanbase that remains his biggest bargaining chip.
Negatives on Welker: He doesn't stretch the field, he doesn't make the big play, he doesn't intimidate defenses, he's not a game-changer.
Look at the top four receivers from 2011: Calvin Johnson, Wes Welker, Victor Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald. Of those guys, Welker is the most out of place. While the other receivers on that list make opposing teams sick to their stomach all week, Welker doesn't inflict nearly as much fear as Rob Gronkowski does, even though Gronkowski doesn't even play the same position.
Nevertheless, New England would go into a collective mourning if Welker left.
Boston's attachment to Welker is as personal as their attachment to Rajon Rondo. It's a devotion that goes beyond numbers and enters something in a more heartfelt realm.
While Lloyd is certainly a big-time receiver and can potentially provide the long-ball services that Welker cannot, it's Welker's personal connection to a city that Lloyd has lacked for a decade.
Lloyd stretches the field, he's a game-changer, he's a dangerous wide receiver. And yet, he has demonstrated a total inability to form a true connection with any football team.
Lloyd is a bit of a misfit. Welker is not a misfit. In many ways, these two are opposites.
And yet, there exists one possible similarity.
Welker's value is probably at its highest in New England. The Patriots give Welker the biggest platform to succeed in the style he plays with. While Welker is not a misfit, he still isn't equipped to succeed on many other teams in the NFL. He was born to be a Patriot.
There's a reasonable chance that the same will be true for Lloyd.
New England is quite possibly the rightful home for two talented guys who probably wouldn't fit in anywhere else. In that sense, Welker and Lloyd may have a true kinship. And who's the guy who makes this all possible? Tom Brady.
The Patriots inked Lloyd to a very reasonable deal. That tones down the risk factor. In addition to that, I've seen Lloyd do some remarkable things on the field, which increases the excitement factor.
Whether or not Lloyd will be a game-changer for the Patriots in 2012 remains to be seen. I'm not banking on it, but I certainly have an open mind about the whole thing. The potential is there. For now, that's good enough for me.
At the end of the day, a move with potential was all I really wanted from this crazy offseason. I was looking for a different Patriots team in 2012. Not drastically different, of course, but I didn't want to prescribe to Albert Einstein's definition of insanity by trying the same experiment all over again and expecting a different result.
Now, with the addition of Lloyd, a new variable has been added to the experiment. I'm happy about that. Lloyd is an extremely smart guy. I've seen countless interviews with the man, and each one was extremely impressive. He's got a solid head on his shoulders.
In fact, his intelligence makes the whole misfit situation even harder to understand. Why he's had such an inability to form a connection with anyone aside from Josh McDaniels is strange. But I suppose that point is moot, considering that Josh McDaniels and Brandon Lloyd are both with the Patriots now. Therefore, I like this move.
Grade on getting Brandon Lloyd: B+
Grade on the Patriots actually making a move with some potential: A+
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