The Patriots tried to bring the gang back together, but in the end it looks like things didn’t quite work out the way they hoped.
Two of the biggest names let go on Monday were wide receivers Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth, who were both veteran additions that many felt would bring immediate stability and a veteran presence to the wide receiver position. ¬†Both were guys who had previous success in New England with Tom Brady and this offensive system, so bringing them back seemed to make perfect sense.
It appears Deion Branch is poised for one final season in New England. (FILE:USPresswire)
Surprisingly neither of them survived the first round of cuts, which now leaves an interesting situation developing as we head into the final days of preseason.
Judging by recent performances by Stallworth, his release didn’t come as much of a surprise as in the last week it appeared that he was locked in a battle with Deion Branch for the final receiver spot and had been on the decline. ¬†Stallworth’s inability to get separation from the defensive backs was glaring in recent weeks, not to mention the drop he had last Friday night that seemed symbolic of a guy who more or less looked pretty frustrated and defeated by the end of the Buccaneers game.
Branch meanwhile has been solid in his time on the field, with his keen ability to get open and make a play outshining Stallworth and giving him the edge for a roster spot.
As for Gaffney, his situation was a little different. ¬†He’s been battling an injury and hasn’t registered a reception since he made two against the Saints in New England’s exhibition opener. ¬†Most had thought that he would be an effective player in the offense given his history with quarterback Tom Brady, but apparently it looks like he won’t get a chance to pick up where he left off in a Patriots uniform after leaving via free agency after the 2008 season. ¬†His release more or less solidifies a spot for Branch, but also opens up a potential opportunity for one of the younger guys vying for a spot.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe also offered up an interesting theory on Gaffney in this entry:
Don’t know how anybody can be shocked about Gaffney’s release considering we know nothing about the medical reports. Maybe he’s going to be out a month. Maybe the Patriots didn’t want to carry him and risk having to waive a guy like Danny Woodhead. Gaffney could be back at some point, you never know. He really wanted to come here after being released by the Redskins. He has already pocketed a $250,000 signing bonus. Maybe he’ll be back when he’s healthy or when his salary isn’t guaranteed after Week 1.
Meanwhile the Patriots now have Branch, Jeremy Ebert, Julian Edelman, Jesse Holley, Brandon Lloyd, Matthew Slater, Wes Welker, and newly acquired Kerry Taylor, who was claimed earlier today off waivers from the Vikings, at the receiver position for New England.