New England Patriots Add Gaffney Strengthening Wide Receiver Depth
On Wednesday the New England Patriots added to their already full wide receiver corps by adding veteran Jabar Gaffney. Gaffney was released by the Washington Redskins earlier this week. While the deal has not been fully disclosed, it’s believed to be a two-year contract.
In 2011 Gaffney recorded 68 catches for 947 yards and five touchdowns in Washington. Gaffney was in New England from 2006-2008 where he was one of Tom Brady’s favorite receivers. The Patriots have already made several moves through free agency this season placing the franchise tag on Wes Welker, re-signing Deion Branch, and signing free agents Brandon Lloyd, Donte’ Stallworth, and Anthony Gonzalez.
Gaffney left New England in 2008 following then offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ departure for Denver. There he teamed up with Lloyd in a strong Broncos receiving group. When McDaniels decided to return to his old position with the Patriots for 2012, both Lloyd and Gaffney have followed him back to Foxborough.
Gaffney is one of Tom Brady’s favorite receivers of all time. In December before the Patriots took on the Redskins in Washington, Brady spoke to the media about Gaffney saying, “Jab could do everything well. I think that’s his versatility, he’s got good size, he’s got long arms, he’s got good speed, he’s got good quickness, he plays every position, he’s smart.”
The question now is where do you place the 31-year old veteran? The top two receivers for the Patriots in 2012 are unquestionably Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. That places Gaffney likely third in the group (where he was his first time in New England) right in front of Stallworth and Chad Ochocinco who is returning following an agreement to restructure his contract.
In 2011 Brady had very little support with wide receivers forcing him to rely on tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. That issue has been completely solved in the 2012 offseason as the Patriots have now brought back two free agents, signed four free agents, and drafted a receiver. That group now includes three pro bowlers and Brady’s favorite receiver.