Heading into the NFL off-season, one of the league’s elite teams that is rumored to be in for some drastic changes is the New England Patriots.
The Patriots franchise is notorious for letting players walk in free agency despite still producing at a high level for the team. New England is not a franchise that prefers to pay or overpay players to stick around for the long-term and that is becoming abundantly clear with the way the team’s front office is handling two of their best players at the wide receiver position.
Perennial Pro Bowler Wes Welker and veteran Brandon Lloyd may not have a future in New England according to Greg A. Bedard of The Boston Globe:
Probably the biggest question concerns Wes Welker. He may still be the game’s best slot receiver, and most every team needs one. But do these Patriots? If they had onlyRob Gronkowski at tight end, the answer would be an absolute yes. But with Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandezsigned to big, long-term contracts, we’re not so sure.
Ever since a contract dispute in the off-season last year, Welker’s future with the Patriots has looked bleak to say the least. Despite being one of the best receivers in the game and among the league-leaders in receptions every single season since becoming Tom Brady’s favorite target in New England, the Patriots appear to be willing to let Welker sign with another team next month rather than re-signing him to a long-term deal.
Although this move was expected by the Patriots, the team potentially parting ways with Lloyd as well was not. Lloyd may have not turned out to be the threat downfield as expected once acquired by the team, but the wideout was still considered a value asset to the team. New England may let Lloyd go via Bedard:
If I’m the Patriots, I let Welker walk, I don’t pay Brandon Lloyd’s $3 million option (making him a free agent), and I use that money to find the best X receiver on the market to threaten defenses down the left sideline. Lloyd was close, but not quite the right guy.
So even though the Patriots were arguably the best offense in the league this past season and still a threat on that side of the football moving forward with a few years left in the tank for Brady under center, New England will be in for some changes to the offensive arsenal in order to save money.
The Patriots haven’t been burnt much in the past by letting players go, but it remains to be seen if letting Welker and Lloyd go is the right move.