One of the Super Bowl storylines that sparks the most interest from this perspective is 49ers receiver Randy Moss.
After being a disruptive presence at the end of his Patriots tenure in 2010, he's been a great teammate this year in San Francisco by all accounts, accepting a reduced role (40 percent of the offensive snaps). His key stats: 16 games played, 2 starts, 28 receptions for 434 yards and 3 TD's.
One of Moss' touchdowns came in the Dec. 16 win over the Patriots, as he beat rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard off the line and executed one of his patented vertical routes up the left side. If anyone was curious, it reminded them that Moss still has that vertical presence.
So now we fast-forward to 2013. Moss is scheduled for unrestricted free agency and Pro Football Talk is reporting he'd like to play again.
The Patriots' equivalent to Moss in terms of No. 3 role this past season was Deion Branch, who played almost the same percentage of snaps as Moss. He is also a free agent (key stats: 16 catches, 145 yards, 0 TDs).
In terms of each receiver's skill set at this stage of their careers, one could make the case that Moss' vertical presence would be a better fit with the Patriots next season (the vertical element has been lacking since Moss' departure). If the Patriots could be assured that they'd be getting the Moss locker room presence of 2007/2012, and not the Moss of 2010, perhaps it would be an option they'd consider in a reshaped receiver corps that will also likely include an infusion of youth.
Just thinking out loud.