Off the Snap: Brandon Lloyd an Option for Patriots With Aaron Hernandez Gone?
Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web….
• With Aaron Hernandez's post-arrest release last week and an inexperienced group at wide receiver, the Patriots very much could be in the market for a veteran pass-catcher in the coming weeks. One name that likely will not be on their list, though: Brandon Lloyd.
Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com reports that the Patriots' earlier decision to cut Lloyd was "as much about money as anything else" (cutting him saved New England a $3 million roster bonus), but also points out that Lloyd may not have been a great fit in the locker room. "Now would seem to be a time when the Patriots are particularly interested in finding players who fit among the rest of the team," Yates writes.
That all may be true, but Lloyd did catch 74 passes for New England last season, his only year with the team. Danny Amendola (assuming he stays healthy) is currently the only safe bet on the Patriots' WR depth chart, though rookie Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce have promise and veteran Julian Edelman more than known the system.
Still, with Hernandez gone and Rob Gronkowski likely missing the start of the season, New England might have to go to more three- or four-WR sets. Right now, the Patriots don't appear to have the personnel to make that work.
• Hernandez's fall has put the spotlight squarely on the pre-draft scouting process, especially with recent revelations about Hernandez's shady past. Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant could take the narrative in another direction.
Former scout and current DallasCowboys.com writer Bryan Broddus said in a radio interview that Bryant had "the worst" background he had ever seen.
The Cowboys have kept a close watch on Bryant, including placing a curfew on him last season. He responded to the franchise's concern with a career-best year -- 92 catches, 12 touchdowns.
• Miami handed WR Brandon Gibson a contract worth nearly $10 million in hopes that Gibson could man the slot, with Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace out wide. Instead, Gibson finds himself fighting an uphill battle against third-year player Armon Binns -- the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson wrote that "Nobody on offense helped his stock more this offseason than" Binns.
Head coach Joe Philbin also told Jackson that Binns is "playing faster" than Gibson right now. Binns had six catches for the Dolphins last season, after coming over from Cincinnati.
• The toughest ticket on the 2013 NFL schedule? Right now, it's the Sept. 15 matchup between the Broncos and Giants in New York, at least according to the Denver Post. That's a Peyton-vs.-Eli showdown, of course, so the hype should be off the charts heading into that Week 2 matchup.
Current price for the Denver-New York game on the secondary market: About $500 per seat.
• The Steelers' offensive line bid farewell to veterans Willie Colon and Max Starks, meaning a group that struggled throughout last season now has newer and younger pieces to integrate. Pittsburgh's also breaking in some zone-blocking principles after finishing 26th in the league on the ground last season. PennLive.com takes a look at what all the changes up front mean for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense.