NFL free-agent preview: Receivers

NFL free-agent preview: Receivers
March 12, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Here's the fifth installment in a series of looks at impending free agents and how they might fit in with the Patriots' needs. To date, we've hit on linebackers, defensive backs, and both defensive and offensive linemen. Today we're looking at receivers.

PATRIOTS DEPTH CHART
Brandon Lloyd, Kamar Aiken, Matthew Slater

PENDING FREE AGENTS
Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Deion Branch

OVERVIEW
This is the focal point of the Patriots offseason. If Welker goes, taking his annual 110 catches and 1,200 yards with him, how do the Patriots replace that? And if Brandon Lloyd is too much for the team to take and they release him before his option kicks in March 16, who is the outside threat? And if Julian Edelman isn't retained, who's the punt returner and utility guy/matchup problem the Patriots wanted Edelman to turn into? We can all agree that sending Tom Brady into battle with a gun that fires a "BANG" flag is not the way to make the quarterback feel good about the deal he just struck. Something's gonna happen here.

TOP-TIER
Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Danny Amendola

MID-LEVEL
Donnie Avery, David Nelson, Josh Cribbs