Caldwell with the Patriots in 2006
|No. 82, 87, 86|
|Born:||March 28, 1979|
|Died:||June 6, 2020 (aged 41)|
|Height:||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight:||210 lb (95 kg)|
|High school:||Thomas Jefferson|
|NFL Draft:||2002 / Round: 2 / Pick: 48|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at PFR|
Donald Reche Caldwell Jr. ( rih-SHAY or REE-shay; March 28, 1979 - June 6, 2020) was an American professional football player who was a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) for six seasons in the 2000s with the San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots and Washington Redskins. Caldwell played college football for the Florida Gators.
Caldwell was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1979. He attended Jefferson High School in Tampa, where he was a three-sport standout in high school football, basketball and baseball for the Jefferson Dragons. In football, Caldwell started at tailback as a freshman; as a sophomore, he converted to quarterback--a position he had never played--and threw for 6,936 yards and 77 touchdowns as a three-year starter. As a junior in 1996, he threw for 2,338 yards, led the Dragons to the Class 5A state semifinal game, earned high school All-American honors from PrepStar, and was named the Florida Class 5A Player of the Year. He was a first-team all-state selection in 1996 and a second-team selection in 1997.
In four high school baseball seasons, he set the Jefferson Dragons' career records for batting average (.379), doubles (25), triples (six), steals (67) and runs (76). The Cincinnati Reds selected him in the 1998 MLB draft, but he decided to play college football instead.
Caldwell accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he was a three-year letterman for coach Steve Spurrier's Gators teams from 1998 to 2001. As a junior in 2001, he was a third-team All-American selection by The National Sports Bureau, an honorable mention All-American selection by the Football News, a semi-finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award (annually given to nation's top receiver), and a second-team All-Southeastern Conference selection. He finished his impressive junior season with sixty-five receptions for 1,059 yards (an average of 16.3 yards per catch) and ten touchdowns, becoming only the ninth receiver in Gators history to gain over 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. Caldwell majored in leisure service management.
Caldwell was selected by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft with the 48th overall pick. He played for the Chargers for four seasons from 2002 to 2005. In his rookie season, he had twenty-two catches for 208 yards and three touchdowns and returned nine kickoffs for a 24.4-yard average. In 2003, he played in nine games with four starts for the Chargers; he caught eight passes for eighty yards and rushed for thirty-nine yards on five carries.
His 2004 season began with three touchdown receptions in the Chargers' first five games. However, in a game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6, Caldwell suffered a knee injury, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and was lost for the season. He returned to play a full season in 2005.
Caldwell subsequently signed with the New England Patriots prior to the 2006 season. He went on to total over 60 catches and 700 yards on the season. During a playoff game against the Chargers, Caldwell had seven receptions for 80 yards, including a four-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Tom Brady in the fourth quarter. A week later in the AFC Championship game, he dropped two passes during the Patriots' 38-34 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Caldwell was released by the Patriots four days before the first game of the 2007 season.
In his six-season NFL career, Caldwell appeared in seventy-one games, starting in twenty-nine of them, while making 152 receptions for 1,851 yards and eleven touchdowns. He also tallied fourteen carries for 108 yards rushing.
On May 14, 2014, Caldwell was arrested for drug possession and intent to distribute. On January 30, 2015, he was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and three years probation for possession of MDMA with intent to distribute. In addition, he pleaded guilty to drug charges involving marijuana and ecstasy, along with charges involving gambling.
On December 12, 2019, Caldwell was accused by the Justice Department of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. He pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit health fraud on January 23, 2020, and was set to be sentenced in June 2020.
Caldwell was shot and killed on June 6, 2020. According to his mother, the shooting occurred during an attempted robbery. Police reported that the killing did not appear to be random, and that the apparent robbery may have been planned.