Today, the New England Patriots officially announced the re-signing of former Redskins, Broncos, and Texans wide receiver Jabar Gaffney. The move was first reported over the weekend.
Gaffney already has significant experience in the Patriots' offense, when he was the team's #3 wide receiver from 2006-2008. At 6'2" and 200 lbs, Gaffney brings some size to the Patriots receiving corps. He also represents a versatile option at the receiver position who already has an established rapport with quarterback Tom Brady.
The move also marks the fourth different veteran wide receiver the Patriots have signed this offseason, making for a very crowded depth chart at the position. Let's do a quick break-down after the jump:
1a. Wes Welker, 30 (slot): Welker is the Patriots top option at the slot receiver position and is the best in the league at what he does. Currently, he is not under contract as he has yet to sign his franchise tender.
1b. Brandon Lloyd, 30 (outside): The Patriots signed Brandon Lloyd to a three year contract this offseason. He figures to serve as the Patriots' top outside target due to his deep threat ability.
3. Jabar Gaffney, 31: Gaffney gets a slight advantage over Deion Branch due to his size and recent production. The team signed Gaffney to a two-year deal, and that indicates that they envision him playing a significant role in 2012.
4. Deion Branch, 32: Branch isn't the athlete he once was, but he still has a chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady that no one has ever been able to match. He will likely have a reduced role in 2012.
5. Donte Stallworth, 31: Stallworth has shown he can still be a deep threat with his speed. He's likely competing with Chad Ochocinco for one roster spot. Even in a more limited role with the Redskins, he had a stronger season than Ochocinco in 2011.
6. Chad Ochocinco, 34: Despite his advanced years for an NFL wide receiver (34), Chad Ochocinco showed in 2011 that he is still an explosive athlete and talented receiver. In terms of talent, he's probably in the top three at the position for the Patriots. When it comes to Ocho's chances to make the roster, it all depends on whether or not he can learn the playbook and get on sync with Tom Brady this offseason.
7. Julian Edelman, 25: Edelman still has a lot of potential as a slot WR, even though his production has dropped the last two years. He's been pushed down the depth chart, but his young age (25) and experience on special teams and defense likely make him a safe bet for the final roster.
8. Anthony Gonzalez, 27: If Gonzalez can stay healthy, he'll have a chance to unseat a veteran for a roster spot. If he can't stay healthy or return to his previous form, the Patriots will more than likely show him the door.
9. Matthew Slater, 26: Matt Slater probably won't factor into the team's plans at receiver in 2012. However, the team just re-signed him to a long term deal, and his prominence as a special teams standout make him a roster lock.
10. Britt Davis, 26: Davis is a big, developmental receiver who could be a candidate for a practice squad spot in 2012.
11. Jeremy Ebert, 23: The Patriots selected Ebert in the seventh round out of Northwestern. He can play the slot well, but is a longshot for a spot on the final roster due to how crowded it is. Practice squad candidate for 2012, with an eye on the future.
12. Matt Roark: At 6'5", 215, Roark is an undrafted free agent out of Kentucky who can factor as a receiver, special teams and even started at quarterback in a game. Practice squad candidate.