Patriots must exercise Lloyd’s option by March 16

There has been a lot of talk about the $3 million option bonus the Patriots may or may not pay Brandon Lloyd – it is not expected they will – but when do they have to make that decision?

Lloyd’s option must be exercised between the first day of the league year and the fifth. For 2013, that means after 4 p.m. on March 12 but before the end of the day on March 16.

Free agency also starts on March 12. So the Patriots could survey the landscape on the players available at receiver and make a decision on Lloyd based on whether or not they think there is a better option out there.

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Lloyd’s behavior was erratic in the locker room, both with media and teammates, and on the practice field as well, part of the reason why he’s unlikely to return.

If Lloyd is released, the Patriots will save $4.9 million against the salary cap for 2013.

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