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Patriots sign Gaffney, release Sullivan

FOXBORO, Mass. (Oct. 9, 2006) -- The New England Patriots signed former Houston Texans wide receiver Jabar Gaffney to shore up their thin group at that position.

The Patriots also released defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan and cornerback Hank Poteat.

After five games, New England's wide receivers have just 41 catches. The team lost its top two players at that spot when Deion Branch was traded to Seattle after the first game of the season following a lengthy holdout, and David Givens signed as a free agent with Tennessee.

Gaffney, 25, was Houston's second-round draft choice in 2002 and started 50 games in four seasons with the Texans. He caught 171 passes for 2,009 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season, Gaffney had a career-high 55 receptions for 492 yards and two touchdowns.

Gaffney signed as a free agent with Philadelphia in the offseason, but was cut in September.

In June, Gaffney was arrested following a traffic stop in New Jersey for unlawful possession of a handgun. Gaffney was registered to carry the weapon in Texas, but not New Jersey. His attorney said Gaffney would apply for a first-time offenders' program in which the charges would eventually be dismissed, but the outcome of the case was not immediately known Oct. 9.

"We really have four receivers on the team," coach Bill Belichick said. "I think that's a little on the light side."

Troy Brown is the only holdover at that position. The other receivers are Doug Gabriel, Reche Caldwell and rookie Chad Jackson. They're still adjusting to the offensive system and, with Gaffney, have extra time to prepare for the next game thanks to a bye this week.

"We'll take a look at him," Belichick said. "He's had some production in the league. We have a couple of weeks here to work on it."

Sullivan, a first-round draft pick by New Orleans in 2003, was acquired before the season for wide receiver Bethel Johnson. Sullivan was inactive for all five games.

"It just didn't work out," Belichick said. "We have a couple of players ahead of him."

Poteat signed with the Patriots before the 2004 playoffs and was released Aug. 29. The Patriots re-signed him Sept. 27 and he started one of the two games he played this season.

"He really didn't play very much," Belichick said. "Guys who leave the team could come back to it, so we'll see what happens."

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