Raiders claim Gabriel on waivers
Just one day after his release in New England, where he had fallen out of the Patriots' regular wide receiver rotation in the past month, Doug Gabriel has a new team.
And it turns out it's his old team.
The Oakland Raiders, who traded the four-year veteran to the Patriots this summer, on Wednesday were awarded Gabriel on a waiver claim. The Tennessee Titans also put in a claim on Gabriel, but Oakland won his rights because it has a poorer record.
In a somewhat surprising move, given the state of the New England wide receiver corps, Gabriel, 26, was waived by the Patriots on Tuesday afternoon. He appeared in 12 games, with five starts, and had 25 receptions for 344 yards and three touchdowns. His 13.8-yard average was the best on the Patriots' roster among players with more than 10 catches.
New England acquired Gabriel from the Raiders this summer for a fifth-round draft pick, feeling the former Central Florida star would provide quarterback Tom Brady a bigger target than those with whom he was accustomed to playing. They also felt he would add a vertical dimension to the passing game.
In one six-game stretch, Gabriel started five times and had 18 catches for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
But in a 17-14 loss to the New York Jets on Nov. 12, Gabriel lost a fumble in the second quarter. After that miscue, his playing time was dramatically reduced. In the last four games, he had only one catch, for 12 yards. Over the past two games, Gabriel was on the field for fewer than 30 snaps total.
A fifth-round choice in 2003, Gabriel returns to a team he knows well and to an offense with which he is familiar. The Raiders inherit his contract, which runs through the 2007 season, and will owe him a base salary of $141,170 for the balance of this year.
Gabriel has 96 career catches for 1,466 yards and eight touchdowns. He has appeared in 54 games, with 12 starts.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.