The Patriots have some good receivers on the roster, but they needed to add some depth in case of injury. Instead of going the high-end route and spending big dollars, they decided to go after a cheaper alternative that has had success in the NFL. Former Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson is a player New England has liked for some time, so they decided to sign the seven year pro out of Washington State. Gibson, who will turn 28 on August 13, is 6’0, 204 pounds, and he knows how to use his strength to make plays.
Gibson was born in West Germany before his family moved to Puyallup, Washington, and attended John R. Rogers High School from 2005-2009. Gibson was recruited by California, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, and Washington State. He ultimately chose to stay close to home and play for the Cougars. As a freshman, Gibson appeared in nine games, making nine receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Although he didn’t contribute huge numbers, he showed that he can make big plays, averaging 19.1 yards per catch. Gibson also had ten kick returns for 186 yards, but that would be the last time he would hit double figures for the rest of his career. The Cougars knew what they had and they didn’t want him to get hurt on special teams. Gibson also played for the WSU basketball team, but he decided to focus on football.
Gibson got a lot of playing time as a sophomore and he made a big difference in the offense, making 49 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns. Even though he wasn’t a starter, he was still able to carve out a role. His junior year, Gibson started 11 games and took his game to another level. He finished with 67 catches, 1,180 yards, and nine touchdowns. He was named First -Team All-Pac-10 and was also named to Phil Steele’s Third-Team All-America.
Gibson decided to stick around for his senior year, regardless of the coaching change WSU went through. Adjusting to a new offense had an effect on on Gibson's production; he finished the season with 57 catches for 673 yards and just two touchdowns. His yards per catch dropped to a career low 11.8, but he battled through and finished his career as one of the most productive wide receivers in Cougar history. Staying for his senior season and finishing school may have been good for his education, but it definitely cost him in the draft. Gibson slipped to the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft before he was finally selected by the Eagles.
After playing just one game as an Eagle, Gibson was traded to the St. Louis Rams for linebacker Will Witherspoon. Gibson didn't waste any time getting acclimated to the Rams offense, making seven catches for 93 yards in his first game. Gibson went on to start four games as a rookie and he was active for 10, finishing the season with 34 catches for 348 yards and one touchdown. 2010 was one of Gibson's best, starting 12 games and finishing the year with 53 catches for 620 yards and two touchdowns. 2011 was a bit of a disappointment for Gibson; he made just 36 catches (on 71 targets) for 431 yards and one touchdown. He only started nine games and just didn't step up like the Rams had hoped.
2012 was not only a bounce back season for Gibson, it was also his best to date as a pro. He finished the year with 51 catches for 691 yards and five touchdowns. Gibson also started 13 games, the most he ever started in his career. He parlayed his strong season into a new contract with the Dolphins, and Miami was excited about him. Unfortunately for Gibson and the Dolphins, things didn't work out as they hoped. Over two seasons, Gibson had 59 catches for 621 yards and four touchdowns. That type of production isn't difficult to replace and the Dolphins moved on.
Gibson will be playing in a Patriots offense that he flourished in under Josh McDaniels in 2010. Assuming he has a strong training camp and shows in preseason that he can still make the big plays, Gibson should be able to lock down a spot on the 53-man roster. The Patriots don't have a lot of receivers with the build of Gibson and he is a target that Tom Brady is going to appreciate. The Patriots always get production from receivers that many other teams wouldn't sign, but they do it consistently and Gibson may be the next man up.