Wednesday, May 2, 2012
The Patriots Will Welcome Back Most Wide Receivers, Unless You Are Named Randy Moss
Obviously somebody in Foxborough is following me (@RichSlate) since that's exactly what the Patriots did today: he will reportedly sign a two-year deal to return to New England.
You might remember Gaffney from such seasons as 2006-08. The Patriots were the second stop on what has been a four-team tour of the NFL (Texans, Pats, Broncos, Redskins). He didn't put up huge numbers when he was here earlier: he combined for 85 catches, 1059 yards and eight touchdowns. The last two years, he was stuck behind some guys named Randy Moss and Wes Welker, ever hear of them?
Gaffney's career has actually taken off more since he left Gillette. His catches and yards totals have both increased in each of the past three seasons, for teams that weren't exactly offensive machines (Denver, Washington). In fact, last season he set career highs in catches (68), receiving yards (947) and first downs (50) while tying his mark in touchdown catches (5). He did all that with Rex Grossman throwing to him.
Bottom line, it's a great move for the Patriots. He's very comfortable with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels (his coach in Denver) and New England's playbook. There shouldn't be much of a learning curve for the former Florida Gator (are you listening Chad Johnson?). Gaffney is ultra durable too since he's played in 16 games in nine of his 10 NFL seasons. He only missed five games in 2006 because he was released by the Eagles in the preseason then out of the league for the first five weeks of the season.
Washington was 5-11 last season and they're rebuilding with Robert Griffin III, their No. 1 pick. For an excessive outburst on Twitter where he went after his cousin (Lito Sheppard) and soon to be ex-wife, the 31-year-old Gaffney was deemed expendable. Seems a little harsh, especially considering how bad Washington has been over the last few years. Oh well, the Patriots will happily take him.
New England woke up and realized that its lack of wide receiver depth is one of the things that came back to bite them in the Super Bowl loss to the Giants. Now instead of Tiquan Underwood, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater running routes, the Pats will have Welker (please sign him!), Brandon Lloyd, Gaffney, Deion Branch and Donte' Stallworth. It's funny that Branch, Stallworth and now Gaffney have all been invited back after leaving to go elsewhere.
UPDATE 5/3: Underwood was released today. Hey, at least it wasn't the night before the Super Bowl like last time.