The big hubbub over Brandon Lloyd, which boils down to whether or not he's pesty enough to jettison, is far too premature and underdeveloped to seriously consider.
We can ask, in essence, what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior for an NFL player? And does being moody reach the barometer for unacceptable?
Without answering those questions, it's impossible to gauge whether the Patriots should cut the cord on Lloyd. But you already know the answer to both questions and it has everything to do with star status, contract dollars, productivity, and -- until recently -- perception with the public, at least around these parts.
In colleague Greg Bedard's expanded thoughts on Lloyd Tuesday, he included this damning note:
You just never know what you're going to get with Lloyd, and either you can deal with it or you can't. For example, talked to one player a few weeks ago that said he was talking to Lloyd about something and suddenly Lloyd said in mid-sentence, "I don't want to talk to you anymore," and put his headphones on.
Call it anecdotal, but it's damaging nonetheless to Lloyd's standing in the locker room and a personal problem he'll have to address on his own. But if that's the extent to which the anecdotes run (there are plenty more this reporter and others can summarize in dealing with Lloyd), it's hard to imagine this passes the smell test for a team problem. However, it would also not be surprising if there were more incriminating examples of his surly behavior. He fits the type. But there have been worse characters in the NFL.
Hall of fame bound wide receiver Terrell Owens, a chronic narcissist in his heyday, would hold court with reporters and bash fellow teammates (Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb) before going weeks on end without speaking to the media and presumably his teammates. He had an emotional swing that felt like a roller coaster. Then there's Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, whose facial expressions often belie how much he hates his teammates. And sometimes he lets it slip from his mouth.
Should the Patriots keep Lloyd? Of course they should. Should they back out of the final two years of his contract, worth an estimated cap hit of $10 million over that span? Eh. That's a different matter wrought with financial wrangling.
The problem is one of precedence. If the Patriots decide that productive players, who happen to be quirky and reasonably tough to manage, are unworthy to be on their roster, the team will continue to have a hard time luring and keeping high profile players developed outside of the Patriot Way. Think Randy Moss. Think Adalius Thomas.
The list of those foregone -- for reasons far beyond their moodiness or attitude toward the team -- is a short one, most notably because the barometer is so high to be considered disruptive.
Questioning whether Lloyd is a cancerous addition to the team is fair. But the facts, as they are known, do not reach the threshold for expecting his departure. What is known is that he showed up for all 16 games, caught 74 passes for 911 yards and four touchdowns, and is one of three receivers under contract for the 2013 season. The others are Matthew Slater and Kamar Aiken.
It should take a lot more than being Mr. Grumpy pants for Lloyd to go. So I don't suspect as much.