FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots signed free agent tight end O.J. Santiago and re-signed guard/center Gene Mruczkowski today. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed. Additionally, the Patriots placed running back Patrick Pass on the reserve/injured list with a hamstring injury and signed tight end Rod Trafford to the practice squad. Santiago will wear number 88, Mruczkowski will wear number 64 and Trafford will wear number 85.
Santiago, 32, is in his seventh NFL season and has played in 78 career games with 60 starts for the Atlanta Falcons (1997-99), Dallas Cowboys (2000), Cleveland Browns (2001) and Oakland Raiders (2003). The 6-foot-7-inch, 265-pound tight end has recorded 81 career receptions for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns. He was originally drafted by the Falcons in the third round (70th overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft. Santiago was Atlanta's primary starting tight end for three seasons from 1997-99, starting all 41 games in which he appeared over that span. He was traded to Dallas on Aug. 27, 2000 and played in 10 games for the Cowboys that season. In 2001, the Kent State product signed with Cleveland and started 12 of 14 games for the Browns. He spent the 2002 season out of football and signed with Oakland for the 2003 campaign, starting seven of 12 games for the Raiders that year. In 2004, Santiago was with the Denver Broncos during training camp, but was released in the final preseason roster cuts. He was signed by the Raiders on May 24, 2006 and was with Oakland during training camp this season, but was placed on the reserve/injured list on Sept. 2 and released on Sept. 8.
Mruczkowski, 26, was originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted rookie free agent on May 16, 2003 and has played in 17 games for the team since then. He begins his fourth stint of the season with New England, having also been on the active roster from the beginning of the season until Sept. 30, from Nov. 14 to Nov. 18, and most recently from Dec. 2 to Dec. 9. Mruczkowski has not appeared in a game this season. The 6-foot-2-inch, 305-pound guard/center missed his rookie season due to injury and returned to play in 10 regular-season games and three playoff games for the Patriots in 2004. Last season, the Purdue product played in seven regular-season games and one playoff contest.
Pass, 28, is a seven-year NFL veteran and has played in 78 career games with 11 starts for the Patriots since New England selected him in the seventh round (239th overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-10-inch, 217-pound running back has recorded 1,096 career yards from scrimmage - 128 rushes for 526 yards, and 66 receptions for 570 yards - and has scored four career touchdowns (three rushing and one receiving). This season, Pass was on the physically unable to perform list from the start of training camp until the Patriots activated him on Nov. 25. He played in each of New England's last three games, recording six rushes for 21 yards and a pair of receptions for 24 yards.
Trafford, 28, has played in four career games, all with the Buffalo Bills in 2004. He was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on Jan. 17, 2003 after going undrafted following the conclusion of his career at the University of South Carolina in 2001. The 6-foot-3-inch, 250-pound tight end was with the Patriots for their 2003 training camp, but was released on Aug. 28, 2003. He spent time on the practice squads of the Buffalo Bills (2003) and Philadelphia Eagles (2004) before being signed to Buffalo's active roster on Dec. 8, 2004. He played in the final four games of the 2004 season for the Bills, recording three receptions for 25 yards. He was with the Bills through the 2005 preseason before being released in the final roster cutdown. This season, he was in training camp with the St. Louis Rams before being released in the final preseason roster cuts.