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2007 Starters and Notable Players: Wes Welker, Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney
2012 (projected) Starters and Notable Players: Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch (unsigned free agent), Chad Ochocinco
This is the most interesting battle of the positions.
In 2007, Bill Belichick pulled off some of his magic and landed Wes Welker and Randy Moss over the offseason. Both Moss and Welker recorded 1,000 receiving yards, with Moss almost amassing 1,500.
Moss also broke the single-season touchdown reception mark previously held by Jerry Rice with 23. Welker had 112 receptions, eight of which were touchdowns.
The 2007 supporting cast included Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney, good players to whom Brady could dump the ball if Welker or Moss were covered. Stallworth had nearly 700 receiving yards for six touchdowns and Gaffney had 449 yards with five touchdowns.
Last year, the wide receivers were worse than the 2007 group, but the acquisition of deep threat Brandon Lloyd made the race closer.
Wes Welker led the league in receptions last year with 122 catches. He also finished second in receiving yards, with 1569. He was the clear No. 1 receiver on the New England offense.
Deion Branch was a good No. 2, amassing 702 yards and five touchdowns.
Beyond Welker and Branch, there wasn't much else. Chad Ochocinco fell miserably short of expectations and players like Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater didn't answer the call.
In free agency, the Patriots hit it out of the park when they signed Lloyd and brought back Donte Stallworth as security.
Some people have said that Lloyd is old but he is only 30. Moss was 30 when he had his incredible 2007 season.
This is the hardest decision to make, but the 2012 squad will be better than the 2007 squad...but just barely. At the time, Moss was better than Lloyd. But Welker is better now than in 2007.
After another year in the system, Chad Ochocinco will have a relatively decent season. If Branch is re-signed, this group of receivers could be one of the best in the league.
Edge: 2012 Wide Receivers