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Tom Brady reaches out to former receivers to try and fix Patriots passing game

Tom Brady appears to be hoping to get Deion Branch (left) back on the plane. Tom Brady appears to be hoping to get Deion Branch (left) back on the plane. (David J. Phillip/AP)

It's not a news flash that the New England Patriots have major issues with their receiver corps. They were without Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola for their Sunday victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Julian Edelman leads the team with 27 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns through three games ...  and a 7.4 yards per catch average. Tom Brady entered Week 3 ranked 29th in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted efficiency rankings, and he's been first overall in four of his last five seasons.

So, what's Brady to do? The Pats may get another receiver before the late October trade deadline, and one assumes that Gronkowski and Amendola will be back in the lineup consistently at some point. But in the interim, New England's quarterback has reached out to some old friends.

Mike Silver and Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Sunday morning that Brady has called and texted Deion Branch and Brandon Lloyd, who combined for 90 catches, 1,056 yards, and four touchdowns in 2012. Per Silver and Rapoport, Branch is in Kentucky, and is ready and waiting by the phone if the Patriots call. However, Lloyd is not in game shape, because he's been working on a straight-to-DVD zombie movie entitled After Effect with Daniel Baldwin. (Yes, if you're a Sopranos fan like I am, you just made a Cleaver joke in your head).

No surprise that Brady is looking for any help he can get -- whether or not he's got the team's approval to reach out to Branch and Lloyd. The Patriots need experienced receivers to run their complicated offense, and that experience is valuable even if said receivers are past their prime (like Branch) or exploring their acting options, Willie Mays Hayes-style.

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