It's been almost nine months since the Patriots released Chad Johnson. Last March, the team signed Brandon Lloyd as its new deep threat, a role he had success in when playing for Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels when both were in Denver. In 2010, Lloyd had 77 receptions for 1,448 yards (18.8 YPC) and 11 touchdowns. And this was with Kyle Orton throwing him passes.
Lloyd put up respectable numbers in his first year in New England: 74 catches, 911 yards, 4 touchdowns. But he ranked 30th in total value among all wide receivers, and 42nd in value-per-play, according to Football Outsiders' metrics.
And while Tom Brady is one of the few NFL quarterbacks who can overcome suspect receivers (see the 2006 season, for example), Lloyd's future with the team could have more to do with his off-field antics.
"Odds are against Brandon Lloyd's $3 million option bonus being picked up," Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe wrote Monday. "There is still a lot of internal debate about what to do considering the Patriots literally couldn't line up tomorrow at receiver. Lloyd's erratic behavior in the locker room and on the practice field proved tiresome, according to a league and team source. If they cut Lloyd, that would save the Patriots $4.9 million against the cap this season, though there will be $2 million in dead money that can be spread out over two years. The team was smart to build in protection with Lloyd."
The great irony, of course, is that Johnson was reportedly a model citizen during his short stint in Foxboro but he was doomed by a lack of confidence that led to a grand total of 15 receptions in 2011.
Meanwhile, Bedard notes that "there is a good deal of optimism on both sides that a three-year extension will get done" with Wes Welker, the Pats' most important wideout. Worst case (if you want to call it that): New England cuts ties with Lloyd, re-signs Welker, gets Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez healthy, and ends up with Tavon Austin in the draft.
Far-fetched? Yeah, sure. But admit it: You would you be surprised if Bill Belichick pulled it off, either.