Three vets released

One day before the trade for wide receiver Randy Moss is expected to be official, the Oakland Raiders have released three players in a salary cap move. The Contra Costa Times reported Tuesday that the Raiders released safety Ray Buchanan, guard Frank Middleton and tight end Roland Williams. The deadline for teams to get under the salary cap is Wednesday.

The Raiders signed Buchanan, who started all 16 games, before the season after the Atlanta Falcons released him but did not give the team the performance it expected. Oakland also believes that second-year-man-to-be Stuart Schweigert is ready to assume a starting role. The team is also anticipating Derrick Gibson to return to a complete recovery after missing the entire season with injury. Gibson, who was a first-round draft pick in 2001, has been a disappointment in his four years as a Raider.

Middleton became a Raider after signing as a free agent from Tampa Bay. For the previous three seasons, he expected the team to release him – a move it finally made. When healthy, Middleton was a key member of Oakland's offensive line but the last two seasons have ended due to injury. The fact that Brad Badger has played well as a starter also might have facilitated the decision to release him.

The Raiders resigned Williams during the offseason because they felt his blocking and leadership would help the team's ground game. Williams, however, was of little factor and the team has three young tight ends in Doug Jolley, Courtney Anderson and Teyo Johnson.

Oakland's trade for Moss is expected to be finalized Wednesday. The Raiders will also ship linebacker Napoleon Harris and the seventh overall pick in the draft to Minnesota.

What happens with cornerback Charles Woodson also bears watching. The Raiders gave Woodson the "non exclusive rights" franchise tag that includes a $10.5 million dollar price tag. Oakland is reportedly looking to trade Woodson, who most people feel has unachieved but the Raiders would rather get something in return for him.


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