The Miami Dolphins have cut ties with WR Legedu Naanee, and have agreed to terms to add WR Jabar Gaffney in his place. Gaffney will be playing in his 11th NFL season. The veteran is playing for his 6th team, and this is the first Florida-based team that the native Floridian will suit up for. Gaffney played his college ball as a member of the Florida Gators, but as a pro this is his first stint playing for a team in sunny FLA.
On one hand it is odd to have a guy like Gaffney available in week 5. Several teams have struggled mightily in the passing game in 2012, yet Gaffney was available. That is likely due to the fact that Gaffney has been dealing with a thigh issue for a while now (but it appears to be near 100% at this point). He is a guy who has increased his receiving yards and first down catches every season for 5 straight seasons. In 2011 he caught a career-high 68 passes for a career-high 947 yards for the Washington Redskins.
In the off-season Gaffney became expendable in the nation’s capital as they added free-agent Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan, plus Dezmon Briscoe off waivers, and they gave more responsibility to 2nd year WRs Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson.
‘Phins phans are pleased to see the Naanee experiment end. He was invisible, which for a starter is clearly not acceptable. His special teams play was strong, but ultimately 4 weeks of horrid performances cost him. Enter Gaffney. We should see opportunities quickly for him. A scenario that I like is Gaffney to the right of Ryan Tannehill with Davone Bess in the slot to the right and Brian Hartline on the far outside to the right. I think this gives opportunities for Tannehill that have not been available yet in 2012. Tannehill has struggled throwing to his left, but a WR like Gaffney can really help here.
A sure-fire stat that we can all get excited about…Gaffney has 443 career catches (24 for TDs) and has only ever fumbled twice (losing just 1 in his 10 year career)
Gaffney has speed that is good, not great (4.58 40-yard dash), but he runs very disciplined/accurate routes. My favorite aspect of Gaffney’s game is his ability to use his talented hands to snag balls out of the air. Reminds me of Hartline the way he can catch the football. For a rookie QB this is huge. Allowing the pass to get too deep into your body is a sure way to allow for drops, worse yet balls bounce off the body and becoming a threat to end up in the defences hands. I have a feeling that Tannehill will be able to develop a trust and chemistry with Gaffney that will (quickly) become better than the any other Dolphins WR not named Bess or Hartline.
Gaffney comes from a football state, and a football family. His dad was a WR for the New York Jets and his cousin is former NFL CB Lito Sheppard.
At the beginning of the 2012 season the Dolphins WR group was getting a lot of flak. Suddenly a healthy Hartline and the addition of Gaffney (plus of course the consistency of Bess) have this as a potentially formidable group.
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www.rantsports.com/blog/author/craigballard/ for all of my articles on the Miami Dolphins (yesterday’s article was a look at why I consider Dan Marino the best QB ever…Check it out if you get a chance!)