Patriots Screw Panthers, Claim Their Sixth-Round Rookie Running Back

Panthers running back Tyler Gaffney injured his left meniscus last Friday, so his rookie season's already done. Normally, Carolina would place him on injured reserve, but because teams still have 90-man rosters at this point of the season, injured players have to clear waivers before they can be shipped to IR. No one usually puts in a claim, but today, the Patriots did.

By exploiting a technicality, the Patriots essentially got another sixth-round pick (even though he's not playing this season). Bill Belichick's face right now is probably as happy as the photo at the top of this post. OK, maybe a little less wild.

The Patriots' plan for Gaffney could involve him competing for a spot on next season's depth chart after Stevan Ridley's contract ends. Mike Reiss points out that the Patriots can move Gaffney to IR once rosters are cut down, and keep him for next season. He's a cheap investment, too. The Stanford running back's on a four-year contract with the only guaranteed money being the $96,000 signing bonus already paid by Carolina.

Or, Gaffney could end up with a similar story to that of former Giant Jake Ballard. The tight end's knee never recovered sufficiently for him to play a down for the Pats, and he ended up as a preseason cut the following year.

For what it's worth, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman chalked the transaction up to "business," saying he needed the roster spot more. He seems to be at peace with the decision, and with whatever facial expression Belichick is making right now.