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FA Signing: Patriots Sign WR Joey Galloway

Height: 5-11   Weight: 197   Age: 37
Born: 11/20/1971 Bellaire , OH
College: Ohio State
Experience: 15th season
High School: Bellaire HS [OH]

The departure of Jabar Gaffney has created an opening to our #3 wide receiver spot (or #2, depending on how you look at it). After visiting with the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers, Joey Galloway found a new home with our New England Patriots, inking a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.15 million, according to Mike Reiss (who indicates that Galloway may have had a bit of leverage in negotiations, which is why the contract is worth more than the veteran minimum).

Joey Galloway brings a boatload of experience. He'll be entering his fifteenth season in the league this year after previous stints with the Seattle Seahawks (who drafted him eighth overall back in 1995), Dallas Cowboys, and most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He had three straight years of 1,000 yards receiving with the Bucs, including a career year in 2005 where he had a career high 83 receptions for 1,287 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2006, he made 62 receptions for 1,057 yards and 7 touchdowns while starting 14 games. In 2007, he made 57 receptions for 1,014 yards and 6 touchdowns while playing in 15 games. His 2008 season was cut short due to a foot injury, limiting him to just 13 receptions for 138 yards.

What will he bring in 2009?

In a conference call with the New England media, Galloway insisted that his foot was fully healed for this upcoming season, and that it had been healed for quite a while now.

"Yes, the injury was a bone situation. It happened early in the season. It was a six-game injury. It's completely done, and yeah, the foot is fine."

Mr. Galloway has played in a total of 185 games, including 169 starts and totaling 682 receptions for 10,710 yards (15.7 avg.) and 77 career touchdowns. Oh yeah, and that 15.7 yards per catch career average? It's the highest of any active NFL player with 300 or more receptions. Our very own Randy Moss ranks in second with 15.66. Nice stats, eh?

So what can we expect from him on the Patriots this year? Well, he'll have to compete with recently acquired Greg Lewis for that vacant spot at WR, for starters. Competition is a good thing, though, as it can only mean that we're putting the best football players on the field when September rolls around. Jobs are to be earned, no matter how long you've been in the league, but at a one-year deal we're talking about a low-risk, high reward type of situation.

Forget about his age for a moment. Up until the foot injury, Joey Galloway still displayed some blazing speed and excellent hands. If he still manages to be that other deep threat opposite Randy Moss, the Patriots can stretch defenses out and give Wes Welker even more breathing room on those underneath routes (like we expected with Stallworth). He also used to be a pretty good punt returner, but at this point in his career, I think the Patriots would let one of the other guys handle that duty.

Now, another deep threat is nice, but Mike Reiss recently hinted in his mailbag at another part of Galloway's game that would raise his value to the team, and it's something Bill Belichick absolutely covets: versatility.

Hi Mike, I like the recent signing of Joey Galloway because he's an experienced, veteran receiver. I feel like he might be able to step in and fill the hole left by Jabar Gaffney. However, he is 37 years old, and I wonder if he still has enough speed to stretch a defense the way he used to. It would be ideal if he could line up outside, and let Welker play the slot. Do you think this is how the Pats envision the WR corps starting next season? With Galloway and Moss on the outsides, and Welker picking teams apart in the slot?
Zack, Somerville

A: I think that is definitely part of the thinking, Zack. But in listening to Bill Belichick talk about Galloway on his WEEI "Big Show" interview last week, it sounded to me like versatility was a big part of the appeal. Galloway will probably learn all the receiver spots - similar to Jabar Gaffney - which will allow the Patriots to continue to be a game-plan type of offense that morphs its plan specific to each week's opponent. That will also increase Galloway's value to be on the 45-man game-day roster.

The negative aspect to this signing is that Galloway may potentially be just a stop-gap player due to his age, but there is a reason Bill Belichick signs veteran players such as these in the twilight of their careers (apart from the obvious amount of experience that they bring). Belichick recently touched on this subject in an interview with Alex Marvez from Fox Sports.

"You know what you're getting when it comes to the level of commitment of those players," Belichick said. "They know their time is somewhat limited so you usually get a player's best shot at that point in their careers."

All right, Galloway! Give us your best shot, and welcome to New England! (Please, oh please, don't pull a Fernando Bryant on us!)