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What the addition of Brandon Lloyd means for the Patriots’ passing game

03.17.12 at 8:58 pm ET
By

Brandon Lloyd (AP)

The addition of wide receiver Brandon Lloyd helps the Patriots’ passing game on a number of levels: it provides quarterback Tom Brady with another option outside the numbers, the receiving corps gets slightly younger, and it gives the New England offense something it has been missing since Jabar Gaffney left following the 2008 season — another pass catcher who is not a tight end who can be counted on for 50 or so receptions a season.

The 30-year-old Lloyd, who has averaged 74 catches a season the last two years, has been connected to the Patriots throughout the free agent process for several reasons, not the least of which included his well-known fondness for Josh McDaniels, the New England offensive coordinator who had worked with Lloyd in Denver and St. Louis.

McDaniels helped turn Lloyd the 6-foot, 188-pound receiver from a statistical JAG who never topped 30 receptions over the first seven seasons of his career into a stud who has averaged 74 catches a season the last two years. In all, with McDaniels as the St. Louis offensive coordinator, Lloyd had 51 catches for 683 yards and five touchdowns last year in 11 games with the Rams. That’s on the heels of 77 catches for 1,448 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 with Denver, a portion of which happened in McDaniels’ final season as head coach of the Broncos. (McDaniels coached 12 games that year in Denver.)

It’s not just as a deep threat — Lloyd represents a serious upgrade across the board for the New England passing game. Per the chart that was whipped up by Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus (left), Lloyd’s numbers in both the intermediate and deep routes the last two seasons are impressive, and will provide a serious boost to the Patriots’ offense.

Last season, the Patriots ran lots of sets with two tight ends and two receivers, and so with Lloyd in the fold, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots approach negotiations with veteran free agent wide receiver Deion Branch, another outside option. In addition, veteran Chad Ochocinco is another wideout who faces an uncertain future now that Lloyd is on the roster.

Regardless of what other personnel moves the club makes going forward, Lloyd projects as one of two outside receivers for the Patriots in 2012, and his ability as a deep threat will only serve to help fellow receivers Branch (if he does return) and Wes Welker (and if he is healthy, newcomer Anthony Gonzalez). Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez also figure to benefit on short and intermediate routes when it comes to the inclusion of Lloyd.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Aaron Hernandez, Anthony Gonzalez, Brandon Lloyd
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