Looks like the Denver Broncos rebuilding phase is officially in full-swing.
A week after Tim Tebow was announced as the Broncos' quarterback of the future, the team traded Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Lloyd, the league's leading receiver last year, to the St. Louis Rams on Monday for a conditional 2012 draft pick.
Tebow will have his work cut out for him because he has lost his top target even before he makes his first start of the season against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday. Lloyd was the one who made an acrobatic, one-handed catch on a Tebow pass that almost sailed out of bounds when Tebow replaced Kyle Orton in the Broncos Oct. 9 matchup against the San Diego Chargers.
In St. Louis, Lloyd will reunite with former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, now the Rams' offensive coordinator, and provide Sam Bradford with a much-needed downfield threat. Bradford's top target, Danny Amendola, is out for the season with a torn left triceps.
Lloyd is in the final year of a deal that pays him about $1.4 million, a bargain for a player who led the league with 1,448 yards receiving last year, when he caught 77 passes, 11 of them for touchdowns.
His numbers are down this year, with 19 catches for a team-high 283 yards and no touchdowns.
We appreciate all the hard work that Brandon did during his three years in Denver and wish him the best with the Rams..., Broncos football chief John Elway tweeted. I'm excited about our wide receiver group - This is as healthy as we've been at that position since the start of the year. Our young WRs have really emerged and made some plays, and this is a great opportunity for them to continue to step up.
Last month, Lloyd complained about a lack of opportunities to catch the deep ball under the new regime in Denver. Coach John Fox, however, took Lloyd's complaint as a sign of his dip in productivity, which he blamed largely on a groin injury that kept Lloyd out against Cincinnati-Denver's only win. But, Lloyd maintained the Broncos' conservative offensive philosophy was more to blame for the Broncos' losses.
Lloyd had a breakout season in 2010 and made the Pro Bowl. He had 18 catches of 25 yards or more and posted the third-highest receiving average (18.8 yards) since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. He only had a combined 2,370 receiving yards in his seven seasons before his 1,448-yard 2010 season, after playing in San Francisco, Washington, Chicago and Denver, where he played in two games in 2009.
Despite his obscured career, Lloyd, 30, is still considered among the most athletic receivers in the NFL with gifted hands.
The Rams gain a deep threat that they don't seem to have in an even more conservative-looking offense than the Broncos'. Their leading receiver is Danario Alexander who has 14 receptions, 287 yards and one touchdown. Lloyd has 19 catches, 283 yards and no touchdowns so far.
Even with Lloyd, though, the move won't drive the Rams to the top of the NFC West, which has been dominated by the 5-1 San Francisco 49ers. And, they will continue to struggle mightily if Lloyd isn't utilized like he should be, or in other words, the same way he has been utilized this season.
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