It's been clearly evident that the New England Patriots struggle to stretch the field vertically. As great of a season as he had, Brandon Lloyd failed to provide the deep attack that the Pats were relying on. Even with virtually no down-field threat, the Patriots had the league's most prolific offense, with most of the credit going to quarterback Tom Brady. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels also managed to help the Pats establish a running game they they lacked for quite some time.

Despite all the pros, the cons quickly caught up to the Patriots in their AFC Championship loss to the Ravens. There was no deep passing game and when the Patriots fell behind they abandoned the run. Other teams will acknowledge how the Ravens shut them down and see it as a blueprint. Think about it though; if the Pats could just sign a tall and fast receiver who forces defenses to respect the deep pass, the short passes will be more open. Brady is capable of finding tight windows and making these short passes regardless, but if he had a deep threat as well, the possibilities are scary (think '07 with Moss). 

Jonathan Cullen of BleacherReport.com wrote an article about some of the free agent wide receiver that the Patriots should consider. Here's his list: 

"Brian HartlineMiami Dolphins: 74 catches, 1,083 yards, 1 touchdown
Much like the Patriots took Wes Welker from the Dolphins years ago, the 26-year-old Hartline is exactly the type of no-name receiver the team could add to the aging receiving corp. 
Mike WallacePittsburgh Steelers: 64 catches, 836 yards, 8 touchdowns
The fourth-year receiver is something of an enigma at this point. Not considered to be a great route runner, but he would stretch any defense the Patriots would play. The 24-year-old is also used to playing the Ravens twice per season. 
Greg JenningsGreen Bay Packers: 36 catches, 366 yards, 4 touchdowns
The 29-year-old Jennings has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, which might make him a little more affordable to the Patriots if they decide to move in his direction.   
Donnie AveryIndianapolis Colts: 60 catches, 781 yards, 3 touchdowns
Avery managed to find a home with the Colts, catching passes from QB Andrew Luck. Avery would help space the field and allow the underneath passing game to work a little easier."
Also I just want to throw it out there that Randy Moss will be a free agent as well. I won't elaborate on that because it's a touchy subject for some people, so I will keep it simple; I would love to see him come back.

Anthony Aidonidis 1/29/2013 06:46:00 PM Edit

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