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Patriots notebook

Gaffney preferred local market

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / March 27, 2008

FOXBOROUGH - Some players can't wait for unrestricted free agency and the chance to have 32 teams in a potential bidding war. Others are content to be one-stop shoppers.

Count receiver Jabar Gaffney in the latter category.

When Gaffney's contract expired after the 2007 season, he told his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, he was only interested in re-signing with the Patriots. Perhaps he would have been swayed had another club called with a megabucks offer, but it turns out Gaffney didn't even seriously listen to other suitors.

"Everybody has their own feelings on how to handle their situation, and for me it was about being in a place where you have a chance to win," Gaffney said yesterday at Gillette Stadium after finishing his work on the third day of the Patriots' offseason program.

"I went down the other road. I stuck around four years in Houston and we were 4-12, 5-11, 7-9, and 2-14. That's probably made me appreciate being on the other end."

While Gaffney made a return to New England his top priority once free agency began Feb. 29, the deal didn't come to fruition until March 5.

"We were talking the whole time, and I was hoping for a long-term deal, but we ended up meeting in the middle," said Gaffney, who signed a one-year pact with a base salary of $700,000, a $500,000 signing bonus, and a $75,000 workout bonus.

"I knew I wanted to be around here. You hear the other deals - guys get this, guys get that - but I couldn't have imagined being in another situation. You look around here and you gotta love this."

Gaffney added that playing with quarterback Tom Brady was a big part of his decision. He believes seeing Brady in the weight room sets a positive tone for the rest of the team.

"When he's out there working, you have no choice [but] to follow," he said. "That's one of the best quarterbacks who ever played the game. If you're a wide receiver, he's the type of quarterback you want to play for. He spreads the ball around and gives everyone a chance to make plays."

Gaffney played every game last season, totaling 36 catches for 449 yards and a career-high five touchdowns. By the end of the season, he was logging more playing time than Donte' Stallworth, and he figures to be a vital part of the receiver mix again, playing alongside Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Chad Jackson, Kelley Washington, and Sam Aiken.

Through the first three days of workouts, Gaffney indicated players have looked ahead, not behind.

"Everybody treats it like it never happened," he said of the team's loss in Super Bowl XLII. "It's almost like we're preparing to go play the Super Bowl next week, like it's not real."

Robertson to visit

As part of their extensive draft preparations, the Patriots are scheduled to host Georgia Tech defensive end Darrell Robertson on a visit to Gillette Stadium early next month.

The 6-foot-4-inch, 255-pound Robertson projects to outside linebacker in the Patriots' 3-4 alignment, and he would also likely contribute in a rushing role in sub packages. Teams looking at Robertson will likely want to double-check his medical status before the draft, as he tore a pectoral muscle while training for the February NFL Combine.

Robertson started 29 games over his four-year college career, and totaled 25 tackles for loss over that time. He is projected as a mid-round draft choice.

NFL teams are allowed up to 30 in-house, predraft visits with prospects. Players cannot work out during those visits, so it's essentially a final interview and chance to finalize any medical reports.

Bryant signs for year

The contract signed by cornerback Fernando Bryant last week is a one-year package. It includes a base salary of $730,000, a $20,000 signing bonus, and a $26,000 workout bonus. The deal qualifies for the veteran minimum benefit, so Bryant's salary cap charge is $491,000.

Mike Reiss can be reached at mreiss@globe.com.

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