Testaverde says he's returning for 21st season

Originally Published: July 14, 2007
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Although there has been no confirmation from New England officials, quarterback Vinny Testaverde said during a national radio appearance Friday that he will sign with the Patriots during training camp, and return to the NFL for a 21st season.

Testaverde, 43, signed a one-year contract with the Patriots last November and played in three games, completing two of three passes for 29 yards, with one touchdown pass and no interceptions. He has spent this spring and summer as an unrestricted free agent, but took part in the Pats' passing camps and in the three-day minicamp last month.

"After two-a-days are over, I'll go back and sign my contract," Testaverde told Sporting News Radio. "I'll wait until then."

If a deal is consummated, it would likely be a one-year contract for the minimum base salary of $820,000, and it would come as no surprise. Coach Bill Belichick, who is on vacation, is an admirer of Testaverde, and the team has maintained his locker in the offseason.

Beyond starter Tom Brady, the New England roster includes third-year veteran Matt Cassel and rookie Matt Gutierrez, an undrafted free agent. The addition of Testaverde would give the Pats a veteran insurance policy and provide him an opportunity to perhaps win a Super Bowl ring before he retires.

The top overall selection in the 1987 draft, by the Tampa Bay Bucs, the much-traveled Testaverde has played with six different franchises during his long career. He has completed 3,693 of 6,259 passes for 45,281 yards, with 270 touchdowns passes and 261 interceptions, for an efficiency rating of 75.2.

In stints with Tampa Bay (1987-92), Cleveland (1993-95), Baltimore (1996-97), the New York Jets (1998-2003, 2005), Dallas (2004) and New England (2006), he has compiled six season with 3,000 or more passing yards and four years with 20 or more touchdown passes. His most prolific season was with Baltimore in 1996, when he threw for 4,177 yards and had 33 touchdown passes.

Testaverde is No. 6 in NFL history in completions, attempts and passing yards and ranks ninth in touchdown passes.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

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