Lemme see... Moss (through 2010) - check. Welker (through 2011) - check. Uhhmm... The remaining guys, who have seen any time, are
Jabar Gaffney (contract up in 2008), Kelley Washington (through 2009), and Sam Aiken (through 2009). Does anyone see a third guy there? I'm not talking someone you can throw in there for a few catches. I'm talking a legit third receiver who can a) be a goto guy when Moss and Welker are swarmed and b) when, heaven forbid, one of them is out for a period of time, jump in and do the deed.
If Gaffney gets re-signed, I'll be shocked. Of course, I may not see something in the guy that the coaches do. That's why they're coaches and I'm a blogger. Go figure. But, it is this blogger's opinion that Gaffney fell flat on us this year. Sure, you could blame it on a "new" QB taking the reins and the possible lack of a connection, but I feel as if Gaffney was so hot and cold in 2008 that he's not our guy. He's not the third man that we so desparately need. Remember Mr. Slippery Hands against Pittsburgh? Wide open down the left sideline, Matt puts the ball RIGHT...IN...HIS...HANDS!! He was a 2 step from the goal line and... drops the ball. That was just one of many that I care not to resurrect.
To be fair, there were times when he brought a smile to my face. In our second matchup against the Jets, Moss and Welker were swarmed. Mangini pulled free agent and ex-Patriot Ty Law onboard to see what he could do. Welker and Moss, mostly on the left side, were blanketed by coverage. Gaffney and TE Ben Watson had a field day on the right-hand side where coverage was thin. But that's about it.
After Donte Stallworth's departure in 2007, many of us were hopeful Chad Jackson could take over the third receiver position. Injured for much of 2006 and 2007, he was healthy going into training camp and appeared to be working hard until we discovered he simply didn't have the football IQ to cut it. As hard as he'd worked, it was simply not there and he was cut. It's a shame, too. That elusive third guy is, most likely in our case, a big slot receiver, Wes's big brother, if you will. I'm talking 5-10 to 6-00 and 200 or so pounds. This guy needs to be a wide receiver with a running back's after catch skills.
I have no, read ZERO, desire to go with a draft pick for this position. Wide receivers are expensive and I'd rather our draft picks fix the O line or grab another young linebacker. We need to find an available guy that no one thinks is a good fit for their current team or believe is washed up. Belichick and Pioli were masters at this technique and built a storied franchise because of it. Let's hope Nick Cesario, our new Director of Player Personnel, is just as masterful as his teacher.