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Patriots claim injured Panthers rookie running back Gaffney off waivers

Carolina Panthers Rookie Minicamp
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CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 17: Tyler Gaffney #27 of the Carolina Panthers during the Carolina Panthers Rookie Minicamp at Bank of America Stadium on May 17, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The Carolina Panthers tried to sneak an injured player through waivers. They should have known the New England Patriots would not allow that to happen.

Panthers sixth-round pick Tyler Gaffney, a running back out of Stanford, had opened eyes this offseason but went down early in camp with a torn left meniscus in his knee. But instead of carrying him on the roster for the remainder of camp before placing him on injured reserve, per NFL rules, the Panthers gambled and tried to waive him first before re-signing him as a way of freeing up a roster spot and saving a few bucks.

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The Patriots are notorious for this kind of move, which is legal. They're always thinking to next year and are looking for these kinds of opportunities. Gaffney must land on their roster now for the remainder of the preseason, but it's a risk they're willing to take — and one the Panthers were not.

For Panthers GM Dave Gettleman, this is a case of deja vu. The Patriots did the same kind of thing to the New York Giants months after the Giants beat them in the Super Bowl in 2012, claiming Jake Ballard, who had suffered a serious knee injury in that game and would miss the entire next season. When the Giants — Gettleman was in the team's front office — tried to waive Ballard only to re-sign him, the Patriots intervened and stole what had been a good player.

Ballard never panned out for the Patriots, and Gaffney might not either. But for the Patriots, it's a solid roll of the dice on a player who could help the team in the backfield next season. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are free agents next season, and there's a good chance both might not return.

Plus, as with Ballard and the Giants after the Super Bowl loss, perhaps this one is a slight measure of payback for Luke Kuechly and the phantom pass interference call in the end zone at the end of the Panthers' 24-20 victory over the Patriots in Carolina last season.

Hey, this is Bill Belichick we are talking about.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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