FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots re-signed veteran offensive lineman Russ Hochstein and signed free agent tight end Chris Baker today. Terms of the agreements were not disclosed.
Russ Hochstein, 31, has spent the last seven seasons with the Patriots (2002-08) and is a veteran of eight NFL seasons with the Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2001-02). The 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound offensive lineman has played in 92 career regular-season games with 20 starts and has also appeared in 14 playoff games with five starts. He has been a versatile contributor for the Patriots, and in his regular-season and playoff career has started 12 games at guard, 10 games at center, two games at fullback and one game at tight end. Last season with the Patriots, Hochstein played in 15 games with two starts. He started the final two games of the season at fullback and saw significant time at fullback and tight end in those contests as the Patriots totaled 351 rushing yards.
Hochstein was originally drafted by the Buccaneers in the fifth round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of the University of Nebraska. He was inactive for every game with the Buccaneers in 2001 and made his NFL debut in the 2002 season opener for Tampa Bay before being released on Sept. 17, 2002. Hochstein was signed to the Patriots practice squad on Oct. 21, 2002, joined the active roster on Nov. 17 and played in one game for New England that season. In 2003, Hochstein spent the first week of the season on the Patriots practice squad, joined the active roster on Sept. 14, and played in 15 regular-season games with one start and three playoff games with two starts. That season, he replaced an injured Damien Woody at left guard in the Patriots' divisional playoff victory and started at left guard in the AFC Championship Game and in Super Bowl XXXVIII as part of a Patriots offensive line that allowed no sacks in the entire 2003 playoffs. In 2004, Hochstein played in 15 regular-season games with two starts and played in all three playoff contests, including a start as the third tight end in the 2004 AFC Championship Game. In Super Bowl XXXIX, he was a short-yardage fullback and helped pave the way for Corey Dillon's fourth-quarter touchdown run in the Patriots' 24-21 win. In 2005, Hochstein played in every game and started the final seven regular-season games and both playoff contests at center in place of an injured Dan Koppen. In 2006, he played as a reserve in 13 regular-season games and three playoff contests, contributing as a reserve at both guard spots. He set a career-high with seven starts in 2007 while playing in all 16 regular-season games and three playoff contests. That season, he started seven games at right guard and one game at center as part of an offensive line that allowed just 21 sacks - the fewest in team history for a 16-game season - and helped the Patriots set the all-time single-season NFL record with 589 points.
Chris Baker, 29, is a veteran of seven NFL seasons, all with the New York Jets (2002-2008). The 6-foot-3-inch, 258-pound tight end has played in 98 career games with 51 starts and has recorded 145 receptions for 1,505 yards (10.4 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. He has also played in five career playoff games with one start, catching 12 passes for 109 yards (9.1 avg.) and one touchdown. Baker recorded a reception in 26 consecutive games for the Jets spanning the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
Baker was selected by the Jets in the third round (88th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft out of Michigan State. The St. Albans, N.Y. native matched or improved his receptions and yards totals in each of his first six seasons with the Jets. As a rookie in 2002, he played in 12 games, catching two passes for 14 yards and adding three receptions for 26 yards in two playoff games. Baker appeared in all 16 games in 2003, catching 14 passes for 137 yards (9.8 avg.). He played in all 16 games in 2004, catching 18 balls for 182 yards (10.1 avg.) and four touchdowns and adding four receptions for 15 yards (3.8 avg.) in two playoff games. In 2005, he started eight games and caught 18 passes for 269 yards (14.9 avg.) and one touchdown, recording a career-long 47-yard reception against San Diego on Nov. 6 before a leg injury ended his season. He returned to start 14 games in 2006, tallying 31 receptions for 300 yards and four touchdowns. He added five receptions for 68 yards in a Wild Card Playoff loss to the Patriots. He recorded career highs in 2007 with 41 catches for 409 yards (10.0 avg.) in 15 starts. Last season, he started 13 games and caught 21 passes for 194 yards.