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Saturday, September 2, 2006
Patriots deal for Raiders wide receiver Gabriel

By John Clayton

The Oakland Raiders made the first surprise move of Saturday's final cut day by trading starting wide receiver Doug Gabriel to the New England Patriots for an undisclosed draft choice.

Clayton's take
The trade of Doug Gabriel to New England was the biggest surprise of cutdown day. It's an obvious sign that Jerry Porter has a chance to win back some playing time under Raiders coach Art Shell. The Patriots, meanwhile, had to do something to get a wide receiver. Deion Branch is probably going to hold out into the season and the Patriots for weeks have been calling around for receiving options. It's even more surprising the Raiders would give up Gabriel knowing they placed Carlos Francis on injured reserve.

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"We had enough receivers that we felt we could part with him," Oakland coach Art Shell said of Gabriel. "He's been a big part of this organization for many years. That was tough, to let him go. But we have some people that we feel we can win with."

Gabriel started five preseason games ahead of Jerry Porter and is considered to be a good, young receiver on the rise. The interesting part of the trade is how it plays into the Deion Branch holdout in New England.

The Patriots have been offered second-round choices by the Jets and the Seahawks but Friday's deadline for Branch being able to make a deal passed without anything happening. Branch filed two complaints with the NFLPA over the failed trade. The first one was because Branch feels the Patriots breached a verbal contract. The second charges that the Patriots did not negotiate in good faith.

The Patriots lost starting wide receiver David Givens to the Titans in free agency and the Branch holdout leaves them short on receivers.

 Doug Gabriel

The other interesting part of this trade is where it puts Porter, who has been in Shell's doghouse. Porter, who asked to be traded, lost his starting job. In the preseason finale against the Seahawks last Thursday, Porter was running third team and closing out the game in the final minutes.

The Raiders had depth at wide receiver with Gabriel, Porter, Randy Moss and Ronald Curry.

"Everybody came in thinking he was going to be a big part of the offense, so it was a big surprise," Curry said. "They didn't make that decision because of me. We've got some talented guys here, but I don't make those decisions."

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.