FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots signed tight end Fred Baxter, wide receiver Fred Coleman, offensive lineman Matt Knutson and placed tight end Daniel Graham on injured reserve, today. With these transactions, the Patriots have a full 53-man roster.
Baxter, 31, played in five games including three starts and caught five passes for 51 yards with the Chicago Bears this year before he was released on Nov. 12. He has played in 121 career games, including 34 starts during his 10-year career. He has snared 95 career passes for 957 yards and 12 touchdowns and also totaled 47 career special teams tackles. The 6-foot-3-inch, 260-pound tight end was originally drafted in the fifth round by the N.Y. Jets in the 1993 draft. He totaled career-highs of 27 catches, 276 receiving yards and three touchdowns while with the Jets in 1997. He signed with the Bears on Feb. 27, 2000 and started 14 games with Chicago. He caught 22 passes for 148 yards and two touchdowns and the Bears finished 13-3 and claimed the NFC Central division.
Coleman, 27, re-joins the Patriots after he was released at the end of training camp on Sept. 1, 2002.
He was originally signed by New England on Nov. 8, 2001 and appeared in each of the Patriots remaining games, including eight regular season and three postseason games. His first career reception was for a 46-yard gain that sparked a scoring drive in a 17-16 come-from-behind victory over the New York Jets (12/2/01). He added a second reception in the season finale at Carolina (1/6/02) to finish with two receptions for 50 yards. The 6-foot, 190-pound wide receiver was originally drafted in the sixth round of the 1998 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills after catching 97 passes for 1,588 yards and 11 touchdowns during his collegiate career at Washington. He spent the majority of his first two seasons in the NFL on the practice squads of the Buffalo Bills (1998) and the New York Jets (1999). He was out of the league in 2000 and joined the Patriots after playing for the Chicago Enforcers of the XFL in 2001.
Knutson, 23, was originally signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent on April 26, 2002. The 6-foot-7-inch, 317-pounder spent training camp with New York, but was waived on Aug. 26. Knutson was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Sept. 26, but was released on Oct. 8. He later re-signed to the Jets practice squad and was there until the Patriots signed him to their active roster. In college, he was a three-year starter at left tackle for North Dakota and helped the Fighting Sioux gain 5,534 yards of total offense in 2001.
Graham, 24, caught 15 passes for 150 yards, including a touchdown while playing in 12 games with six starts during his rookie season. He earned the NFL's Pepsi Rookie of the Week honor after he caught three passes for 68 yards in the Patriots 38-7 victory over Buffalo on Nov. 3, 2002. The 6-foot-3-inch, 253-pounder was selected by the Patriots in the first round (21st overall) of the 2002 NFL draft.