The Patriots have reached an agreement with free-agent wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports, which represents the team's biggest free-agent move to date.
Lloyd adds something the Patriots truly needed -- an outside receiver who can make plays in traffic and compete for the ball as a big-play threat. The Patriots were solid in the middle of the field with receiver Wes Welker and tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, but it was that outside threat that was missing.
Lloyd has already proven he can be that type of weapon in the team's system, having had his most productive years under Josh McDaniels, with whom he is close. A strong Patriots locker room should also benefit Lloyd.
The contract details, when they become available, will be a key piece in analyzing this move. [Update: Jason LaCanfora of NFL Network reports it's three years, $12 million, which is not big bucks and speaks to Lloyd's desire to play in New England.]
This could spell the end of Chad Ochocinco, who is scheduled to earn a base salary of $3 million in 2012 and had a rough entry to the team's system last season. Deion Branch, who served as the No. 2 receiver last year, is a free agent and still could be back (perhaps in a reduced role).
The Patriots have been busy in free agency, mostly working the mid-range area. But Lloyd is a bigger signing, filling a key need, while giving Tom Brady another weapon in a diverse attack that could be even more lethal in 2012.