The Patriots are in the market for a No. 3 receiver after Jabar Gaffney signed with the Broncos at the start of free agency.
Greg Lewis, who was acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles today along with an undisclosed 2010 draft choice in exchange for an undisclosed 2009 draft choice (expected to be a fifth-rounder), is now a top candidate to fill that role.
Part of what made Gaffney valuable to the Patriots was his versatility. He knew all four receiver spots, and could be counted on to consistenly be in the right spot. Bill Belichick once described him as a tactician as a route-runner. Because the Patriots are a base three-receiver offense, the No. 3 receiver is a starter in many ways, and Gaffney's playing time (66 percent) last season reflected that.
It will be interesting to see if Lewis, who spent the first six years of his career with the Eagles, can add that same type of versatility. One area where he figures to contribute more than Gaffney is special teams. Lewis, who totaled 19 receptions for 247 yards and a touchdown last season, also is faster than Gaffney, so in theory, the idea would be that his speed could open opportunities for Randy Moss on the opposite side of the field, and for Wes Welker underneath.
Will that come to fruition? It will be one of the storylines to watch in training camp and preseason.
One part of this deal that was surely enticing to the Patriots is the economic aspect of it. Lewis, 29 is signed for the next three seasons at reasonable prices -- $650,000 (2009), $670,000 (2010) and $725,000 (2011) -- and the Patriots inherit that contract.
(trade compensation: according to league sources, the Patriots give up a 2009 fifth-round pick and, in return, receive Lewis and a 2010 seventh-round pick)