The Denver Broncos appear to be ready to say goodbye to Brandon Lloyd, the budding deep threat who suddenly blossomed into the league's leading receiver under Josh McDaniels last season. Reportedly, Denver's price tag is "a 3rd to a 5th-round draft pick," a bargain price for a player who bettered 1400 yards and hauled in 11 touchdowns.
Presumably the Rams would be the best possible fit for Lloyd, with Josh McDaniels in house and a continuing need for quality receivers for Sam Bradford to throw to. Now PFT's Mike Florio officially tosses St Louis out there as bidders.
But that bargain price, and the Broncos' willingness to deal him in the midst of their offensive overhaul, suggests that Lloyd's value is naturally limited. John Fox is no stranger to #1 receivers, having coached Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith in Carolina. Lloyd, at 30, is looking for a long-term contract. If Fox is willing to let Lloyd go in favor of Demaryius Thomas, what does that say about Lloyd? (Or what might it say about Fox, a coach who seemed worn down by his final seasons in Carolina, and still hasn't got his mojo back?)
Should the Rams jump on this opportunity to improve their roster? Or are there reasons to be cautious? The RamsHerd writers chime in, after the break.
The Rams have already shaken up their roster with a significant number of new players on "risk-free" one-year deals, and all it has earned them is an 0-4 record that, if anything, is worse than it looks. The team has been a mistake-filled mess with positioning and discipline constantly interfering with execution.
While the proven fit of Brandon Lloyd in Josh McDaniels' offense is intriguing, and gives him a leg up over the other players that are new to the Rams' offensive and defensive systems, it doesn't guarantee that he will be any more effective as a "missing piece" than any of the other additions we've brought in.
What Rams fans have to realize is that there is no immediate fix. This is still a "rebuilding" team, and patience is needed as players on both sides of the ball absorb the gameplan and learn how to execute it. More pointedly on the offense, adding a deep threat-only player with a pretty poor catch rate (52.4% last season) is not necessarily going to make Sam Bradford better or safer in the pocket.
For reference, here's Lloyd's target depth under McDaniels, as charted by Mike Clay and the guys at Pro Football Focus:
20+ yards ... 28%
10-20 yds ... 48%
0-10 yds ... 24%
<0 yards ... 1%
The player whose profile closest matches that distribution is Danario Alexander, who also happens to line up in the same position as Lloyd. Is that the upgrade you're looking for?
I hate to say it, but I'm inclined to stick with what we have and treat this season as a necessary set of growing pains. But I'm still on the fence.
No, I don't feel like that is the best move at this point. I'd much rather try to lock down a young and up and coming corner than Lloyd. Besides, Lloyd isn't going to plug gaps on defense and he's not going to give us a viable option to Jason Smith. This team needs a lot more than just an aging wide receiver.
For me the issue is not giving up the 4th rounder. In my opinion Brandon Lloyd is well worth that. The issue lies with what he brings to the Rams for the remaining 12 games of 2011 and on. Not the Rams will not find Lloyd value in the 4th round in the 2012 draft, but with so many holes to fill they can find value there. And by the looks of this season it is going to be a high 4th rounder at that.
Is Lloyd an upgrade over our current corps of wideouts? Yes. Is he enough of an upgrade to make a difference this year? No. The Rams have been sticking band-aids on this roster since the draft and day 1 after the lockout. Having as many as 10 wideouts in camp at any given point. The solution is not a quick fix, it is a process and I just do not see Lloyd as part of the long term fix here in St. Louis.
To me just as glaring as the need to have someone for Sam Bradford to target is the need to give him the TIME to find that target. Spanoulo could line-up Calvin Johnson out there right now and Bradford would be on the turf before Megatron could get 20 yards down field. There will be viable options come next April at the WR position. In my opinion, that is the play here.
To argue the flip side, you can't expect to fill five holes with one player, just like you can't hit a grand slam with the bases empty. But Billy Devaney has already set an aggressive tone toward improving the roster this season, and like you say, this move would upgrade the receiving corps.
One thing Lloyd would provide is an embedded knowledge of how to parse Josh McDaniels' option formations. In addition to the obvious problem of dropped balls, several of Bradford's throws have gone one way while the receiver has gone another. That's a maddening problem that doesn't show up on the stat sheet. Lloyd would immediately address that.
Adding Lloyd creates a crazy surplus of wideouts, though - counting Clayton on the PUP, we would have nine receivers: Lloyd, Danario, and Gibson as "X" wideouts; Sims-Walker and Clayton as "Y" WRs; Salas, Pettis and the newly signed Nick Miller as slot receivers; and Dominic Curry on top of that. You can cut Miller or Curry, but you haven't addressed the obvious overflow at the X.
Trading for Lloyd means another shoe has to drop -- like dealing Brandon Gibson to Pat Shurmur in Cleveland? Personally I would have mixed feelings about this, but from a business of football perspective, it makes sense. But it also makes a Lloyd deal that much more difficult to coordinate.
There should be absolutely no hesitation about making a move for Lloyd. Lloyd already knows the offense and is a low risk acquisition because if he doesn't work out, the Rams don't have to worry about being stuck with a long-term deal. Bradford needs someone who will be a reliable target and give him some confidence back.
Lloyd also offers more big play ability and has a skill set that none of the other receivers have.
I also think it's an obvious move to make because Devaney blows late round picks constantly and I'd rather have a rent-a-player for the rest of the season that could make a huge difference than hoping Mark Clayton will come back strong and one of the other receivers steps up.