The Patriots and Tyler Gaffney have agreed to an injury settlement, which removes the 25-year-old running back from the team's injured reserve list. Gaffney hit IR after clearning waivers following his release with an injury designation on Sep. 3.
The 6-foot, 220-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick of the Panthers out of Stanford in 2014. He suffered an injury in his first NFL training camp while with Carolina and spent the season on injured reserve after being claimed off waivers by the Patriots. Gaffney was injured again in training camp last summer and spent 2015 on injured reserve.
Gaffney had a productive preseason for the Patriots, competing for a role as one of the team's "big backs," but he was injured in New England's fourth and final exhibition game against the Giants. He was one of the team's final cuts as it trimmed its roster to 53 players.
Had Gaffney remained on injured reserve, his season would have been over. He was not eligible to return to the field by way of the short-term injured-reserve designation because he was not on the initial 53-man roster. Gaffney could, however, return to the field later this season after receiving his injury settlement.
A quick and hopefully-not-too-complicated note on injury settlements: In these scenarios, teams and players come to a negotiated settlement recovery time period to discern how much a player should be paid. Once the player is released with his settlement, he is free to sign elsewhere. As a rule, when a player reaches an injury settlement with a club, he has to wait three weeks beyond the agreed-upon recovery period to re-sign with that same club. As an example, if Player X and Team Y agree that it should take about four weeks for a player to recover from his injury, he'll be paid for four weeks. Player X would then have to wait seven weeks to re-sign with Team Y. This is a new rule this year. Under the old rule, Player X would have had to wait six weeks to re-sign with Team Y.
To make a long story short, by reaching an injury settlement, Gaffney's season isn't necessarily over. And, at some point, he could potentially return to the Patriots.