Tim Tebow wasn't the only former professional baseball player to sign with an NFL team on Thursday. The Patriots are going to re-sign running back and former pro baseball player Tyler Gaffney, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Panthers' sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft, Gaffney, 30, won two Super Bowls as a member of the Patriots in 2014 and in 2016. Injuries, however, prevented Gaffney from playing in a regular-season game during his first run in New England. He spent less than 10 days with the Jaguars in August 2017 before temporarily walking away from football. And while he has yet to play in a regular-season game, Gaffney had several notable preseason moments that include his 44-yard touchdown run against the Saints in 2016.
Gaffney, who was drafted by the Pirates in the 24th round of the 2012 draft, returned to the diamond in 2018 as a member of the Pirates' minor league affiliates in Bradenton and Altoona. In 89 games, Gaffney -- who played right field -- posted a .244 average with six home runs and 36 RBI. He retired from baseball in March 2019.
Gaffney made his return to the NFL when he joined the 49ers' practice squad in Week 16. He was released by the team at the conclusion of the 2020 season.
The 6-foot-1, 226-pound Gaffney played baseball and football at Stanford. On the gridiron, Gaffney scored 33 touchdowns for the Cardinal while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. As a senior, Gaffney rushed for 1,709 yards and 21 touchdowns while helping Stanford clinch a Rose Bowl berth. He rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown in Sanford's 24-20 loss to Michigan State in the 2014 Rose Bowl.
Gaffney joins a crowded Patriots backfield that includes Damien Harris, James White, Sony Michel and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson. Led by Harris and quarterback Cam Newton, New England finished fourth in the NFL in rushing during the 2020 season.