4:39pm: In order to make room for Gaffney, the Patriots have cut linebacker Josh Hull, according to Brian McIntyre (via Twitter). Hull, primarily a special-teamer over the last few seasons, had signed with New England back in April.
4:20pm: Former Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney has become the first 2014 draftee to switch teams, having been claimed by the Patriots a day after the Panthers waived-injured him, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). After Gaffney suffered a season-ending knee injury, Carolina had hoped to sneak him through waivers and move him to the injured reserve list, but the Pats stepped in to prevent that.
Prior to the final cutdown date in training camp, injured players with fewer than four years of service time cannot be placed on injured reserve until they pass through waivers, so the Panthers either had to hold onto Gaffney for a few more weeks or hope that he went unclaimed.
As Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk observes, the league’s so-called unwritten rules dictate that this type of waiver claim doesn’t occur often, but Bill Belichick and the Pats are no strangers to such a move. Two years ago, the club did the same thing when the Giants waived-injured tight end Jake Ballard, snatching him off waivers, much to the chagrin of Tom Coughlin. At the time, the Pats head coach dismissed the idea that there was anything wrong with the practice:
“I don’t know what unwrittens you’re talking about,” Belichick said. “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 is no secret about that.”