Jabar Gaffney heading back to Pats

Updated: May 3, 2012, 1:24 PM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

Veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney, whose career was revived in 2006 when he signed with the New England Patriots, is returning to the team, he told ESPN's Josina Anderson on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old Gaffney, a longtime favorite of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, was released by the Washington Redskins on Tuesday. He joins a crowded receiver spot in New England, where Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Donte' Stallworth and Chad Ochocinco headline the depth chart.

Gaffney enters his 11th NFL season in 2012, although his career was at a crossroads in 2006 when he initially joined the Patriots.

At the time, Gaffney had been released by the Philadelphia Eagles and had been out of football for a month. When he signed with the Patriots, who at the time were thin at receiver after trading Branch to Seattle, the move was an afterthought in New England.

But Gaffney's versatility, smarts and precise route-running proved to be a good fit in the Patriots' challenging scheme, and he stuck around through 2008, eventually emerging as a solid No. 3 receiver alongside Randy Moss and Welker.

Then, when Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels left to become Denver Broncos head coach in 2009, Gaffney went with him as a free agent. Gaffney spent two seasons with the Broncos, but when McDaniels was fired, Gaffney no longer fit in the team's plans and he was traded to Washington.

Last year with the Redskins, he totaled 68 catches for 947 yards, which led the team and established new career highs. He also had five receiving touchdowns.

Brady complimented Gaffney last season before a game against the Redskins.

"He's just one of those guys that, from the day we got him here, he was just so reliable and dependable because he knew what to do and he did it well," he said. "You gain a lot of trust from the quarterback when all those things match up. I was bummed when he went to Denver. ...

"Jab could do everything well. I think that's his versatility, he's got good size, he's got long arms, he's got good speed, he's got good quickness, he plays every position, he's smart."

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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