January 1, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Tyler Gaffney (25) runs the ball against the Michigan State Spartans during the second half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

What the Acquisition of Tyler Gaffney Means to the New England Patriots

Yesterday, my colleague Cyrus Geller, touched on the Patriots’ recent acquisition of running back Tyler Gaffney. Gaffney–who was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft–was cut by the Panthers after sustaining a season-ending meniscus tear.

At first look, the Patriots’ acquisition of Gaffney appears perplexing: the team is seemingly loaded at the position with Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, James Develin, Roy Finch, James White, Stephen Houston, and Jonas Gray on the roster–with Gaffney, the Patriots now have nine running backs on the roster. Seems a bit redundant, no?

However, by season’s-end, the ‘running back cupboard’ will look bare: Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, and Brandon Bolden are set to become unrestricted free agents, and James Develin will be a restricted free agent. Further, both Jonas Gray and Stephen Houston are anything but locks to make the 53 man roster.

With that in mind, it’s clear the Patriots’ signed Gaffney with 2015–and beyond–in mind; a very ‘Belichickian’ move.

As my colleague noted, the Gaffney signing closely mirrors the Patriots’ signing of Jake Ballard prior to the start of the 2012 season: here’s to hoping Gaffney provides a better return on investment; it shouldn’t be too difficult.

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