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Release of Brandon Lloyd concludes year of unfulfilled hopes with Patriots

03.16.13 at 4:38 pm ET
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With Brandon Lloyd, there’s no easy answer. You look at his numbers — 74 catches, 911 yards, four touchdowns — and when you consider he was the third (or even the fourth) option in the New England passing game over the course of the 2012 season, it’s hard to say he failed in the Patriots’ system.

But the receiver, who followed Josh McDaniels to New England prior to the start of 2012 out of a sense of loyalty to his former head coach in Denver and offensive coordinator in St. Louis, simply may not have been the receiver the Patriots thought they were getting. In the spring and summer, players and coaches raved about his abilities. He showed an extraordinary connection and grasp of the offense early on. But when the games began, it seemed like he struggled to fit into New England passing game.

It wasn’t as much of a struggle as it was for Chad Ochocinco, who approached the entire 2011 season like he was playing Jenga, afraid of making everything collapse. Instead, Lloyd just appeared to be an odd fit at times.

While New England was looking for a deep threat, Lloyd either didn’t get much of an opportunity to show what he could do when it came to getting behind a defense, or the Patriots didn’t use him properly — his 12.3 yards per catch was the lowest for a full season for the course of his career. And there clearly were times where he was underwhelming, including seven games where he finished with three catches or fewer. Part of that is on the offensive game plan, but it’s hardly the sort of thing you’re looking for from someone who was targeted 130 times over the course of the year. Read the rest of this entry »

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Patriots release wide receiver Brandon Lloyd

03.16.13 at 3:27 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Saturday that they have released wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. The news was first reported by the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe. Lloyd was due a $3 million roster bonus this weekend and had been reportedly negotiating a restructured deal with the team. The veteran receiver was due a base salary of $1.9 million in 2013, with a salary cap charge of $4.9 million.

The 31-year-old Lloyd had 74 catches for 911 yards and four touchdowns in 2012, his first season in New England. He’s played for five other teams since joining the NFL in 2003.

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Updates on the Patriots and Emmanuel Sanders, John Abraham and Dwight Freeney

03.16.13 at 2:42 pm ET
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With the understanding that things can change quickly when it comes to free agency, here are a couple of updates on what are very fluid situations involving the Patriots at this hour:

‘€¢As of this moment — which means it could change instantly — the Patriots have not signed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. There have been conflicting reports regarding New England and Sanders over the last 24 hours, but as of right now, there’s no deal between the two sides. Sanders, who turns 26 Sunday, caught 44 passes for 626 yards and one touchdown in 2012, starting seven games. In his three-year career, Sanders has 94 receptions for 1,290 yards and five TDs. A third-round pick in 2010 out of SMU, he was expected to start in 2013 for Pittsburgh, which already lost free agent receiver Mike Wallace to the Dolphins this week.

‘€¢As for Dwight Freeney and John Abraham, Rapoport is indicating that both veteran defensive ends had left town as of Saturday afternoon, which would indicate that there is no short-term deal imminent regarding ether player. The 34-year-old Abraham, who recently was cut loose by the Falcons after seven seasons in Atlanta, has spent a total of 13 seasons in the league, and has a similar resume to Andre Carter: The 6-foot-4, 263-pounder has at least 9.5 sacks in each of his last three seasons, and has 122 sacks over the course of his career. As for Freeney, the Connecticut native is an 11-year veteran who was taken in the first round by the Colts out of Syracuse in 2002. Over the course of his impressive career, the 33-year-old Freeney racked up 107.5 sacks, including 13.5 over the last two seasons with Indy.

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Donte’ Stallworth involved in hot-air balloon accident

03.16.13 at 2:14 pm ET
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Free agent wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth was involved in a hot-air balloon accident in Florida on Saturday. ESPN’s Mike Reiss is reporting that Stallworth, who has played for the Patriots on two separate occasions, and his girlfriend were shocked and burned when the balloon hit power lines. Reiss also reports that Stallworth is in stable condition while ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that the receiver’s injuries are not serious and he will be able to resume his career.

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Patriots agree on one-year deal with LB Niko Koutouvides

03.16.13 at 2:05 pm ET
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The Patriots and linebacker Niko Koutouvides have agreed on a one-year deal, according to a league source. Koutouvides, 31, is primarily a special teamer who played in 14 games for New England last season, making four tackles. The Purdue product has spent nine years in the NFL, spending time with the Patriots, Bucs, Broncos and Seahawks.

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The return of Aqib Talib makes sense for both sides

03.16.13 at 1:36 pm ET
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In the end, it was a pairing that made too much sense not to work.

Against the backdrop of a depressed cornerback market — with a team that needed his return to help provide some stability and consistency at corner — the Patriots and Aqib Talib agreed on a one-year deal with $5 million.

It’€™s a deal that’€™s a win-win for both sides: Talib gets a one-year ‘€œprove-it’€ contract that, if he stays healthy, clean and plays at a relatively high level, will give him an opportunity to go back on the market in 2014 and potentially land a big deal. Meanwhile, the Patriots, who continue to seek balance and depth at the cornerback spot (particularly with the uncertain legal future that’€™s facing fellow corner Alfonzo Dennard) got a bargain, picking up one of the best corners on the market for a relatively paltry $5 million a year.

Despite some hue and cry that the Patriots should franchise Talib (particularly in the wake of Dennard’€™s murky legal situation), the Patriots did a good job reading the market on this one. Frankly, it’€™s a bad year to be a free agent corner: Talib (one year, $5 million) joins Sean Smith (three years, $18 million from the Chiefs) and Keenan Lewis (five years, $26 million from the Saints) as top-level corners who got significantly less money (guaranteed and otherwise) than elite corners of years past. Compare this year’€™s numbers to last year, when Cortland Finnegan got a five-year $50 million deal with $27 million guaranteed; Carlos Rogers got four years and $29.3 million; and Lardarius Webb got six years, $52 million with $10 million of that guaranteed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Report: Aqib Talib signs a one-year deal with Patriots

03.16.13 at 11:59 am ET
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The Patriots have re-signed cornerback Aqib Talib to a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. (According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, the deal is worth $5 million.) The 27-year-old Talib, who was acquired by the Patriots in a midseason trade with Tampa Bay, finished his six-game stretch with New England this year with 19 tackles (13 solo), two passes defensed and one interception.

While he wasn’€™t a Pro Bowler — he struggled with injury on occasion, and went down in the first half of the AFC title game against the Ravens — when he was healthy, he allowed the Patriots to make some moves defensively that they couldn’€™t do before his acquisition, including the move of Devin McCourty to safety and the decision to shuffle Kyle Arrington back to the role of slot corner. With him in the lineup, the Patriots were able to play a little more man coverage than they had been doing in the previous couple of years, and he was frequently matched up against the opponents’€™ No. 1 receiver.

While the future of cornerback Alfonzo Dennard is still murky because of legal issues, the return of Talib — as well as the re-signing of Arrington and the addition of veteran safety Adrian Wilson — does bring an added sense of stability to the New England secondary for 2013.

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