Clayton: Pats lacking reliable targets

With the ongoing legal issues surrounding Aaron Hernandez, John Clayton discussed the mounting problems for the Patriots at wide receiver and tight end.

Clayton said quarterback Tom Brady could suffer from the uncertainty surrounding his potential pass-catchers.

"It's going to be very difficult, because when you really think about it, [Brady] completes about 400 passes each year," Clayton said. "Three hundred of those passes are pretty much affected in some way.

"You lose Wes Welker, 118 (catches). They don't know about Aaron Hernandez, who catches over 50 (51 receptions in 2012). They don't know about Rob Gronkowski (55 catches) being ready for the start of the season. And they didn't bring back Brandon Lloyd, 74.

"They're without their top five receivers (including 40 catches from Danny Woodhead, who left for the Chargers via free agency). ... From Tom Brady's standpoint, it's the same uncertainty he's had this offseason, that'll probably now carry into training camp."

Clayton also considered the salary-cap ramifications if the Patriots were to decide to release Hernandez.

"Not too complicated, believe it not, because ... the salaries are pretty well backloaded in this," Clayton said. He also said there wouldn't be a big cap hit this year, but there would be about a $7.6 million hit in 2014.