Tuesday was the first day of NFL free agency for 2012 and some of the signings have cleared up who the New England Patriots might acquire. The top priority for the Patriots in free agency this year is to find a wide receiver and after Tuesday, that signing is coming into focus.
Some of the players that have been linked to the Patriots as potential free agent signings have been Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne, and Randy Moss. Though unlikely that he would return to New England post-retirement, Moss was linked due to previous success with the Patriots offense but the six-time pro bowler signed with San Francisco on Monday. Reggie Wayne has been a constant in the Indianapolis Colts lineup since 2001 but with the Colts releasing Peyton Manning and announcing their intentions to rebuild, the Colts seemed to be willing to part ways with the five-time pro bowler. However, Wayne re-signed with the Colts on Tuesday. Vincent Jackson was one of the most linked players with the Patriots this offseason. Jackson has had strong performances in three of the last four seasons and was selected to the pro bowl in 2009. One of the top wide receiver free agents, many felt he would be a good fit in New England. That link was also dashed Tuesday when Jackson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While some players are now off the table, there are still some players who could possibly join the defending AFC champions. One player that has been linked with the Patriots is former New York Giants receiver Mario Manningham. Though Manningham hasn’t had any spectacular seasons in his first four years in the NFL, he is riding high on the free agent market after making what will be considered one of the most famous catches in NFL history in Super Bowl XLVI. Probably the free agent receiver most likely to join the Patriots is Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd played under the Patriots new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in 2010 when Lloyd had his best year so far leading the league in receiving yards. Beyond the link with McDaniels, Lloyd has come out publicly with his admiration of McDaniels, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, and Patriots starting quarterback Tom Brady. It’s now up to the Patriots as to whether or not they would like to sign the nine-year veteran.
It was only the first day of free agency but already it seems the Patriots have tipped their hand as to what they plan to do. It seems as though several players who have been linked to the team were not pursued which only furthers the speculation that Brandon Lloyd could be the next free agent for New England Patriots.