Jabar Gaffney may be a lunatic, but he’s pretty good at catching a football. Since the former has never stopped an NFL wide receiver from doing the latter, we fully expect teams that either simply need a wide receiver, or need a veteran to complement a recent draftee to aggressively pursue the now former Redskin.
Gaffney was released earlier this afternoon in a move that became a mere formality. The Redskins signed Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan in the opening days of free agency, and with last spring’s second-round pick Leonard Hankerson expected to step up and Santana Moss still on board, Gaffney quickly became expendable, even at his minimal $2.65 million salary in 2012 that he was willing to restructure.
He’s 31, and as such joins the obligatory victims of offensive youth movements as teams fear a swift decline in production from their top receiver once he gets further into his early 30s. That same path could victimize Moss next offseason too after he blows out the candles on his 33rd birthday cake.
But Gaffney isn’t done yet, as despite his advancing age and his status as a target for the two-headed Redskins QB monstrosity of Rex Grossman and John Beck in 2011, he still led the team in receptions (68) and receiving yards (947). It was the second straight season that he’s established a career high in both of those categories, showing that his next team is purchasing a receiver with plenty of life left in his aged legs.
And where will he land? We have three ideas…
Vikings: The Vikings were widely rumored to be hot after Justin Blackmon during draft’s opening round, but they wisely passed and took Matt Kalil, a tackle who will keep young Christian Ponder off of his backside. The problem of WR depth was then addressed with Jarius Wright and Greg Childs, who were both taken in the fourth round. But as they develop, Michael Jenkins will continue to get old, and get injured (he’s missed 10 games over the past two years). Gaffney could easily leapfrog both Jenkins and Devin Aromashodu on Minnesota’s depth chart, and look pretty, pretty good opposite Percy Harvin.
Jets: Sure, the Jets just drafted Stephen Hill in the second round, and he could and should become the No. 2 receiver opposite Santonio Holmes. But having a reliable veteran bridge in place is vital for a receiving corps low on depth if Hill struggles initially. His pre-draft projections were somewhat widespread, and he was used minimally during his final year at Georgia Tech. If Hill doesn’t struggle early that’s wonderful, but Gaffney would still fit as the No. 3 receiver, where he’d be a sizable upgrade over Patrick Kerley.
Browns: This may create a crowded situation, but that’s of little importance if the Browns can pair a veteran set of hands with rookie Brandon Weeden. Gaffney would complement the young and blossoming Greg Little, be an upgrade over Mohamed Massaquoi, and allow fourth-round pick Travis Benjamin the time he needs to learn and grow in a pro offense.