What the Signing of Jabar Gaffney Means to the New England Patriots
Gaffney was released from the Washington Redskins in an obvious salary cap move as he was owed $2.65 million. Once the 31-year-old wide receiver hit the open market, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan stated that be believed that Washington could end up keeping Gaffney—but that was ultimately not the case.
Gaffney is a familiar face at Gillette Stadium as he's spent a total of three seasons with the Patriots where he caught 85 passes for 1,059 yards and eight touchdowns. He then went on to play two seasons with the Denver Broncos. At this time, New England's current offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was the head coach, as he caught 119 passes for 1,607 yards and four touchdowns.
What Gaffney brings to New England's offense is familiarity—he understands the offense as he's flourished with Tom Brady as well as with different quarterbacks but still in the same system while in Denver.
By taking a quick snapshot at New England's depth chart, I see Gaffney falling in as New England's No. 3 wide receiver, likely fighting for that position with 32-year-old Deion Branch.
The Patriots now have a total of 12 wide receivers on their roster, and that number is likely to reach 13 as we're still awaiting an official deal with undrafted free agent Matt Roark.
Having 13 wide receivers is certainly far too much to fit on the team's final 53-man roster, but I'd like to believe that Gaffney is in it for the long haul.
What's most impressive about Gaffney is back in 2006, he joined the Patriots midway through the season during Week 8 and managed to pick up the offense rather quickly—something Chad Ochocinco has yet to do.
Gaffney finished '06 as one of Brady's most reliable receivers, having caught 11 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns and then went on to reel in an impressive 21 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the team's three playoff games.
With McDaniels returning as New England's offensive coordinator, it's certainly clear what they're trying to do—and that's to continue on building the passing game and addressing the holes that their wide receiver corps had a year ago. That happened to be size, and Gaffney happens to fill that void as he stands in at 6'2" and weighs 200 lbs.
Heading into 2012, I really like what I'm seeing out of the New England Patriots. Not only have they been addressing their bottom of the league defense, but they're continuing to grow offensively.
If the additions of wide receivers Gaffney, Brandon Lloyd, Donte' Stallworth and Anthony Gonzalez all find ways to produce, then the Patriots are going to be one difficult offense to stop in this upcoming season.
I actually ask myself right now—can they even be stopped?
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