The last time the Oakland Raiders signed a former 49ers wide receiver (not named Ashley Lelie), the man spearheaded a record-breaking aerial attack to the Super Bowl.
Brandon Lloyd is no Jerry Rice (understatement of the year), but the 31-year-old would help an inconsistent Oakland receiving corps.
Lloyd is currently unemployed after failing to renegotiate his three-year, $12 million contract with the New England Patriots, who were his sixth NFL employer. His production did his job security no favors, catching 74 of a possible 130 Tom Brady throws, and averaging a six-year-low 12.3 yards per reception. Despite the reasonably high 2012 expectations, Lloyd caught just four touchdowns.
When he isn’t paired with Kyle Orton (in Chicago or Denver), the 2010 second team All-Pro regularly disappears. Once in his 10-year NFL career, Lloyd eclipsed the 1,000 yard receiving mark.
Lloyd clearly didn’t live up to the hype coach Dennis Erickson preached when San Francisco drafted the acrobatic wideout 124th overall in the 2003 draft, and he may be running out of gas.
But when did such concerns stop the Raiders front office from making an inquiry? Never.
If Lloyd joined the Raiders, he would instantly become the elder statesman of the offense. The oldest receiver on the roster is 25 (Jacoby Ford), and their primary option is Denarius Moore, who is only 24 years old. Lloyd has vast knowledge to share with the two and Rod Streater and Juron Criner (all could use route running advice).
Oakland’s current wideouts have yet to prove they can stay healthy for the course of a season, so Lloyd’s durability is also a benefit. The journeyman could start at flanker and allow Ford (who has missed 22 of the Raiders’ last 23 games to injury) to begin the season in the slot to reduce his snaps and wear.
Additionally, whoever is starting at the deadly quarterback carousel will appreciate a third down security blanket. Lloyd’s lone achievement in 2012-13 was 50 catches for first downs, which is hard to envision for any Raiders fan (Moore had 33 in 2012-13, the departed Myers 41). The journeyman built a reputation for hauling in poorly thrown balls, which could help Terrelle Pryor on short and intermediate routes and Matt Flynn on deep shots. If anything, Lloyd would be good for a highlight at least every three or four weeks.
Lloyd is far from perfect, and his run blocking leaves much to be desired. But the receivers’ flaws won’t stop a desperate club like the Chargers or Bills from throwing guaranteed money, so general manager Reggie McKenzie should let the market play out for the veteran. At a short term deal for $2-3 million annually, Oakland could afford to use Lloyd even if he doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term picture.
The opportunity is there for Lloyd to return to the Bay Area. Looking back at his last stint, losing was a way of life, so the territory should be familiar. If Lloyd decides it’s time to teach the children his tricks, the Raiders should seriously consider his services.