With a deep receiving corps, the Patriots knew they had to make cuts at the receiver position ahead of final cuts and that these would probably be proven veterans. The Patriots made their first round of cuts yesterday, cutting veterans Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney. Stallworth was not a surprise as he has caught just 24 passes for 391 yards and 2 touchdowns over the last two seasons after being suspended for the 2009 season after hitting and killing a pedestrian with his car while drunk driving.
However, Gaffney was a bit of a surprise. Gaffney has years of experience in Josh McDaniels’ scheme, playing with the Patriots in from 2006-2008 and the Broncos from 2009-2010. He also has experience with Tom Brady. He was the Redskins’ leading receiver last year, catching 68 passes for 947 yards and 5 touchdowns and was only cut by them for financial reasons. Only heading into his age 32 season, the Patriots took a chance on him, hoping he had something left. Now they’ll have to eat his $250,000 signing bonus. He has roughly a week to catch on somewhere else before final cuts.
These two releases are obviously good news for Deion Branch, Julian Edelman, Matt Slater, and Jeremy Ebert. Those 4 are now competing for 3 or 4 spots on the receiving depth chart behind Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd. Branch is heading into his age 33 season and showed signs of slowing last season, but he has impeccable timing with Tom Brady and will serve fine as a #3 receiver. Edelman and Slater will likely make the roster because of their youth (heading into their age 26 and 27 seasons respectively) and versatility and ability to play special teams and defense. Ebert is a 7th round rookie who will make the roster if they keep 6 receivers. If not, he’ll be a candidate for the practice squad.
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