Steelers Should Consider Adding Jabar Gaffney For A Late Round Draft Pick

By Cian Fahey

With Mike Wallace still not certain to be on the field for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season, the team enters the NFL draft with a need for depth on the outside despite the re-signing of Jerricho Cotchery.

Bringing back Cotchery, to play the Hines Ward role, as a veteran leader for quite a young group of receivers was a very astute move by Kevin Colbert in an off-season filled with prudent moves by the Steelers\’ front office as a whole.

Once Omar Khan worked his magic to bring the team below the salary cap limit, the Steelers approached free agency as they usually did tendering all of their restricted free agents but one before bringing back Charlie Batch, adding tight end Leonard Pope and re-signing Cotchery for very little expense.

Each move makes sense beyond just filling an open slot on the depth chart. Batch\’s intelligence and experience is massive for the roster off-the-field. Pope is familiar with offensive coordinator Todd Haley from his time in Arizona while I\’ve already pointed out Cotchery\’s veteran value.

With Cotchery on the roster, the Steelers currently have four receivers carrying over from last season\’s roster. Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, Wallace and Cotchery. Of the group, only Brown and Cotchery can realistically be called reliable receivers.

No doubt Wallace and Sanders are not just reliable but overwhelmingly talented when fully healthy and available, but neither Sanders\’ health or Wallace\’s commitment is guaranteed this year. For this reason, the Steelers would be smart to snap up Jabar Gaffney from the Washington Redskins.

Gaffney is not a free agent but he is reportedly available after a rant on his twitter account got him in trouble with the organization last week. The Redskins are trying to shop the receiver and told him not to report to the facility this week. Generally, when you tell a player not to report, that signals that you have no interest in retaining him regardless of whether you can trade him or not.

Gaffney won\’t be a hot property on the open market in a trade, but would be a highly sought after free agent at this point in the off-season. You can expect that some team would be willing to give up a seventh round draft pick for Gaffney, while one of the more intelligent organizations, who are also already familiar with the receiver\’s talents, the New England Patriots could be willing to give up even more for him.

As a starting receiver, Gaffney is a reliable but underwhelming option. As a fifth or fourth choice receiver on a team with plenty of talent ahead of him, Gaffney could be this season\’s Cotchery.

If Sanders and Wallace are unavailable, then Gaffney would be give the Steelers a capable third receiver who could play outside if necessary. The Steelers\’ third receiver this year will be more important than it ever previously was as offensive coordinator Haley loves to use three receivers as he proved both in Kansas City and Arizona.

While Gaffney may not be Steve Breaston or…well…Steve Breaston, he would be more than just another guy buried on the depth chart. Not every sixth round pick turns into Brown and if the Steelers could add Gaffney for that choice, they should definitely consider it.

Like Colbert\’s other three additions this off-season, Gaffney brings more to the table than just another target for Ben Roethlisberger on the field. Just like Cotchery, he gives the team another veteran at the position to help Brown, Sanders and Wallace. In particular, Wallace should benefit from Gaffney\’s arrival. Gaffney doesn\’t have anywhere near the physical skills of Wallace, but he is an outstanding route runner.

While the Steelers obviously have very good coaches who are still developing Wallace\’s route running, the receiver is still relying too much on his speed to get by opposed to defining his ability to lose defenders with sharp cuts or faints. Having a receiver on the field who understands exactly what Wallace is aspiring to do will help him progress further as an all-around receiver.

Gaffney, despite finishing last season with just under 1,000 yards, is one of those names who most fans roll their eyes at when he is linked with their team. Those players tend to be the type that the Steelers go out and sign.

Colbert and Mike Tomlin could continue an off-season of astute additions by making a move for Gaffney. This team cannot have enough pieces in the passing game with their running back situation being quite vague entering the season…to be positive about it.

You can follow Cian on Twitter at @Cianaf

  • SteelersDepot

    I liked the idea of the Stewart talk a few weeks ago Cian, but am not so high on this idea. Never say never though, right?

  • Say Wallace refuses to play for his tender, Sanders has more injury issues, would you prefer Tyler Grisham/late round pick as our third receiver, or a proven veteran receiver much like Cotchery when he came in last year?

    Even if neither of those things happen, the Steelers should use four receiver sets often enough so the fifth guy will be valuable in terms of depth.

  • Koachspiek

    Edited by Dave: If you can’t comment without making personal attacks, please do not comment at all. Thanks

  • SteelersDepot

    I think it would be more of a if/then at that point. Middle of June is the key date with Wallace and Sanders, well, if he goes down, he goes down. I figure the Steelers will add a receiver through the draft regardless and that youngster would just have to step up. I am not opposed to adding another veteran mind you, but to trade a pick for player that odds on might not make it out of camp is something I am not a fan of, and Gaffney scares me from a character and team chemistry point of view. I see where you are coming from, just do not think Gaffney is that guy should they feel the need to add veteran presence in mold of Cotchery is all.

  • RW

    Absolutely not. I’ve seen this guy drop more balls than Limas Sweed. I’ll be upset, to say the least, if we use what little money we have on securing a less than promising/unproven veteran receiver. I’ll take my chances on a rookie or two, even undrafted.

  • SteelersDepot

    One thing I just noticed is that would likely kill the whole idea for Gaffney is that the final year of his deal with Redskins calls for a $2.650 salary. I think that Gaffney will ultimately be released outright.

  • John B.

    i miss the Grish. Hope the Bears let him go.

  • Nik Greene

    Cian, I enjoy reading your articles, as they are well written and usually well thought out. However, I think you missed the mark with this argument. While I understand the concern regarding Wallace, there is still plenty of off-season for him to come around. I’d like to see the list of all the Steelers who have not reported to voluntary workouts. Regarding Sanders, I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt that he will be able to get his feet in shape for the 2012. If he can’t stay healthy, that’s why we signed Cotchery. If Cotchery was signed to add veteran depth, wouldn’t trading for Gaffney be a bit redundant? I wouldn’t expect him to contribute on special teams, or be very happy if he winds up being 5th on the depth chart. Since behavior already seems to be an issue with him, that doesn’t sound like a very successful scenario.
    Then we come to the draft pick. I agree that we can’t expect all of our 6th round draft picks to turn out like Antonio Brown. However, we can expect that a receiver drafted in the six round will be cheaper than Gaffney, play special teams, and be under team control for 3 years. I would expect the Steelers to spend a mid-round and possibly a later round pick on WR. The draft is supposedly deep at that position (as Dave Todd pointed out in the latest podcast), so we could get good value in the 3rd or 4th round.
    Anyway, thanks for the article, and keep writing. If anything it inspires me to condense my usually scrambled thoughts into a somewhat cohesive structure.

    If you are looking for a veteran wide receiver that can play outside in a pinch, I have two words for you – Plaxico Burress (still a FA last I checked (5 minutes ago)).


  • Jake

    Why can’t you get it into your head that Wallace will be with the Steelers next year? The year after? Probably not. Next year – 99.99%. He can’t hold out past June 15 otherwise he loses alot of $. Assuming that they don’t do a long term deal with him, he’ll be in no later than June 15.


    Personal or personnel?

  • SteelersDepot


  • kevin

    Only Brown and Cotchery can be called reliable? So you hold Mike Wallace’s slump against him but not hold it against Brown for playing poorly at the beginning of last year?

  • kevin

    I agree with you Jake. There is almost no scenario in which Wallace does not play out a full year for the Steelers. People are speculating on things without any evidence to support it. It’s like a kids hiding under the covers from the boogeyman.

  • Harold

    That is another argument to draft Fleener. Not only do you get one of the BPA’s at 1.24, you get a player who can draw double coverage over the middle. It doesn’t have to be an X receiver always running fly patterns. If Wallace doesn’t want to play you can line up with Brown/Sanders (assuming one of them can’t go) and Cotchery, and a double TE set with Fleener going deeper and Miller on short routes. And we’re better off in the red zone.

  • Cianfahey91Y

    No. Wallace isn’t reliable because of his tender. He may not sign it at all. He do a dream Jackson and not play properly.

  • Cianfahey91

    Being there and playing 100 percent are two different things.

  • Cols714

    Eh. I’m guessing they know and Mike Wallace knows that he isn’t going to sit out the season. I think with Wallace, Brown, Sanders, and Cotchery, they don’t need to add another veteran receiver.

  • Guest

    Sorry, but this idea makes no sense at all. Why trade a pick & pay the $2.65M/yr salary for a WR behind Cotchery who got a 2yr/$3M contract. Pay more and give up a draft pick for someone lower on the depth chart?

  • Cols714

    Yes. This is a really dumb idea. I’m surprised it was posted.

  • Jprankster2005

    How much is his salary this yr.

  • SteelersDepot

    um, already posted.

  • Eric87

    I like your thinking

  • Eric87

    cant see a late round pick as too much to give up for this guy. As I remember he played pretty decently when Tom Terriffic(sarcasm) was throwing him the ball. Of course he struggled with the other teams as they were really not that talented. You never know how much hunger a vet may have and he could move up the depth chart and be solid if they have problems with Wallace or Sanders. Not a neccessity move though, so don’t see it happening.

  • mghjr88

    I agree

  • mghjr88

    most definitely

  • kevin

    It makes even less sense then because there is almost zero chance that Wallace does not play a full season. All of the rumors and innuendo is not evidence that Wallace will not play. It is silly really.

  • kevin

    Your speculation is baseless and irresponsible. Provide your evidence to support that Wallace will not play at 100%.

  • Clintmartin

    He is garbage! Plain and simple. Only a True Coward Tweets what he was saying, just to much of a biotch to say it to someones face!

    He isn’t worthy to wear the Steelers logo.Why would the Steelers want a player that the Redskins told not to report to work?

  • Clintmartin


  • Clintmartin

    Him doing that can only hurt his cause if other teams are looking at tape on him. He wants Fitzgerald money he has to bring that game.