Patriots take long-range view at RB

By claiming rookie running back Tyler Gaffney on waivers Monday, the New England Patriots showed willingness to a pay a short-term price for a potential long-term gain at a position where there is an uncertain future.

In doing so, they essentially added an additional draft choice, as Gaffney was selected in the sixth round in May. The cost: Gaffney's $420,000 base salary for 2014.

Gaffney, who was part of our "Beyond the first round" series leading into the draft in part because of his excellent 6.78 time in the 3-cone drill, could help the Patriots in 2015 upon his return to health. He suffered a season-ending knee injury in a practice Friday.

The Patriots' top three running backs -- Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden -- all enter the final year of their contracts. Rookie James White, the team's fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin, is signed through 2017. Gaffney's contract also extends through the 2017 season.

When the Patriots did the same thing with tight end Jake Ballard in 2012, some said it was against "unwritten" rules in the NFL. That drew a somewhat fiery response from coach Bill Belichick.

This is essentially Ballard, Part II.

The Patriots hope this one works out with more favorable results, as Ballard never emerged with the team and landed with the Arizona Cardinals, where he's had more success.