New England Patriots: Jabar Gaffney Will Unseat Deion Branch as No. 3 Receiver

Chris Trapasso@ChrisTrapassoAnalyst IMay 8, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 23:  Jabar Gaffney #10 of the Washington Redskins waits on the sideline during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of ine America Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Tom Brady loves to spread the ball around, but he'll have a new, yet familiar third wide receiver option in 2012—the freshly-inked Jabar Gaffney.

He was released by the Washington Redskins last week and picked up by New England soon thereafter. 

Gaffney played for the Patriots during the team's historically productive period from 2006 to 2008, and followed Josh McDaniels to Denver after the 2008 season.

Although he's 31, the former Florida Gators star still has gas left in the tank.

Gaffney had a career year in 2011 with the Washington Redskins, hauling in 68 catches for 947 yards and five touchdowns. 

Though he and Deion Branch both have a firm grasp on the Patriots offense, Gaffney is more of a down-field target. That will lead to him unseating Branch as the team's No. 3 receiver.  

Brandon Lloyd will be the true No. 1, although Wes Welker will presumably receive far more targets than anyone else. 

We know how important Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski are, as well.'s Mike Reiss projected Gaffney in the same role in a recent mailbag column.

While this wouldn't spell the end of Branch's production within the Patriots offense, it'd be hard for the 32-year-old to make as big of a contribution with Gaffney, Lloyd, Hernandez, Gronkowski and Welker seeing targets in front of him.