Belichick on Gaffney: 'He was available'

Belichick on Gaffney: 'He was available'
July 29, 2014, 9:45 am

FOXBORO -- Before Tuesday's training camp practice, Bill Belichick touched on the acquisition of newly signed rookie running back Tyler Gaffney, who was claimed off of waivers on Monday from the Panthers.
 
Gaffney suffered a season-ending knee injury last week and the Panthers placed him on waivers in the hopes of having him land on injured reserve eventually. Instead, the Patriots plucked him when he became available.
 
"Tyler had a real good year last year," Belichick said. "Went to Stanford and then was in baseball for a year, had a good year last year. I think he's a good all-around back that we wanna work with. He was available, we'll see how it plays out." 
 
Belichick has been accused by some of breaking an unwritten rule in the NFL that suggests teams shouldn't claim off of waivers injured players from other teams, especially during training camp when teams do everything they can to make the most of their many roster spots.
 
The Patriots made a similar move in 2012 when they claimed Jake Ballard. Belichick explained at the time that there are no unwritten rules in the NFL.
 
"First of all, there aren’t any unwrittens," he said. "As you know . . . you can’t negotiate a contract with a player while he’s under contract. You can’t negotiate a contract, release him and then re-negotiate another contract with him that was already done in advance . . . So a player is on waivers, then he’s on waivers -- ours or anybody else’s."
 
He added: "Any time you put a player on waivers, you know there are 31 teams out there that can take him if they want him. We all know that. There’s no secrets about that."

Gaffney played one season of Single-A baseball after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 24th round of the MLB draft in 2012. He later returned to Stanford for his senior football season and rushed for 1,709 yards and 21 touchdowns on 330 carries. The Panthers deemed him worthy of a sixth-round selection, No. 204 overall pick, in this year's draft. 
 
The Patriots have had decent success with players taken in the MLB draft. Tom Brady was drafted as a catcher by the Expos in the 18th round of the 1995 draft. Belichick joked that maybe there's one skill from baseball that would translate for Gaffney to the football field.
  
"Maybe," he said with a smile, "he can throw a halfback pass."
 
Gaffney is 5-foot-11, 220 pounds and ran a 4.56 40-yard dash at this year's NFL Combine. He's not the most agile runner in between the tackles, but he ran a speedy 6.78-second three-cone drill at the Combine. By many accounts, he needs to learn how to use his blockers better, but he's a worker who runs hard and tends to fall forward as he finishes his carries.