Veteran quarterback Testaverde signs with Patriots

Updated: November 15, 2006, 5:06 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

FOXBOROUGH, Mass -- Vinny Testaverde, who came out of retirement last season to help out the New York Jets, was signed on Tuesday by New England.

Vinny Testaverde
Testaverde

The move came after the Patriots lost two straight for the first time since 2002 as Tom Brady played two of his poorest games. Until signing Testaverde, New England had only one other quarterback on its roster, second-year pro Matt Cassel.

Testaverde, who turned 43 Monday, was the first overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 1987 draft. He has played 19 NFL seasons and has 269 touchdown passes, eighth in NFL history, and is sixth with 45,252 yards passing.

Wednesday, Belichick stressed that the signing had nothing to do with Brady or Cassell's health, adding that Testeverde will be the third quarterback behind Cassell. He said the Patriots had wanted to bring in Testeverde earlier, but had other roster needs that had to be addressed first, and that he was signed because he can still play, not as a veteran mentor.

"I think the most important thing is that if he has to play, Vinny has a lot of experience, and I think in an emergency he can run our offense without many [repetitions]," Belichick said. "If you have an emergency, I think he'd be able to go in there and be able to run the team in that third spot."

Brady has been listed as probable on the injury report every week for last season and this season, but hasn't missed a game.

Vinny Testaverde Career Stats
Regular season (1987-2005)
Comp
Att
Yds
TD
INT
3691
6526
45,252
269
261
Playoffs (1994, 1998, 2001)
Comp
Att
Yds
TD
INT
114
189
1320
6
5

On Monday, after a 17-14 loss to the New York Jets dropped the Patriots to 6-3, coach Bill Belichick was asked if Brady's throwing shoulder, the reason he's been on the list, affected him.

"I think he's been able to play in every game, so you'd have to ask him that," Belichick said of Brady, who only meets with reporters on Wednesdays. "There probably isn't a player in the league that plays every week that's 100 percent today. He's probably in that category."

Asked if Brady has seemed hampered in his performance, Belichick said, "I think that Tom has had good days, good weeks of practice. I just think overall, we collectively as a team -- coaches, players, everybody -- we just have to do a better job. I think we all feel that way. That includes everybody."

John Clayton: Quick Hits
John Clayton
Clayton
The Patriots' signing of 43-year-old quarterback Vinny Testaverde had nothing to do with injuries. If anything, the move was made for the mental health of quarterback Tom Brady.

• For more of John Clayton's Quick Hits, click here

In Testaverde, joining his sixth NFL team, the Patriots get a player whose experience is at the opposite extreme of Cassel.

The Patriots drafted Cassel in the seventh round in 2005 after he threw just 33 passes at Southern California as the backup to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. As a rookie, he played only in the final regular-season game. This year, he appeared only in a 31-7 win at Minnesota, but didn't throw a pass.

That was Brady's best game of the season. He threw four touchdown passes, completed 67.4 percent of his passes and had a 115.6 passer rating. In a win at Buffalo the previous week, he had a 112.4 rating and completed two-thirds of his passes for two touchdowns and no interceptions.

But since the Minnesota game, Brady threw four interceptions and had a 34.0 rating in a 27-20 loss to Indianapolis, then had an 84.9 rating with one touchdown pass and one interception against the Jets. He's completed 59.2 percent of his passes this season for 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions, a few of which were tipped.

Testaverde has played for Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore, Dallas and the Jets. He retired after playing with the Cowboys in 2004, but last season rejoined the Jets, for whom he played from 1998-2003, after starter Chad Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler were injured in the same game.

Testaverde, who started four games for the Jets last season, became the first player in NFL history to throw at least one touchdown pass in 19 straight seasons. He completed 60 of 106 passes for 777 yards with one touchdown and six interceptions. He was subsequently replaced by Brooks Bollinger, who had started the season as the team's third stringer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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