FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots signed veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde and re-signed offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski today. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Additionally, the team placed rookie tight end Garrett Mills on the reserve/injured list with thigh and hip injuries.
Testaverde is in his 20th NFL season and has played in 223 NFL games with 208 starts since entering the league with Tampa Bay in 1987. He currently ranks in the top 10 in NFL history in four major passing categories. He ranks sixth in NFL history with 45,252 passing yards and also places sixth in league annals with 3,691 career completions. His 269 career touchdown passes rank eighth in NFL history, and his 6,526 career attempts rank seventh. The 6-foot-5-inch, 235-pound quarterback is joining his sixth NFL franchise and is a veteran of 19 seasons with Tampa Bay (1987-92), Cleveland (1993-95), Baltimore (1996-97), the New York Jets (1998-2003, 2005) and Dallas (2004). He has thrown for 300 or more yards 30 times in his career and has posted a passer rating of 100.0 or higher on 48 occasions. He was selected to the Pro Bowl following the 1998 season.
Testaverde, 43, was originally selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the first overall pick in the 1987 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami, where he won the 1986 Heisman Trophy. He spent six seasons with the Buccaneers and owns Tampa Bay's major career passing records with 2,160 attempts, 1,126 completions, 14,820 yards and 77 touchdowns.
Testaverde signed with the Cleveland Browns as a free agent on March 31, 1993, and was part of a turnaround engineered by Head Coach Bill Belichick that saw the Browns rebound from a 7-9 season in 1993 to finish the 1994 season with an 11-5 record - the second best mark in the AFC. Testaverde accompanied the Cleveland franchise's move to Baltimore in 1996 and started the first 29 games in Ravens franchise history. He holds Baltimore's major franchise passing records with 1,019 attempts, 596 completions, 7,148 yards and 51 touchdowns. He set career highs with 4,177 yards and 33 touchdowns for the Ravens in 1996 and earned his first of two career Pro Bowl selections that season.
Testaverde signed with the New York Jets on June 24, 1998, and began his seven-year run in New York with one of the finest seasons of his career. In 1998, Testaverde was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month in both November and December as the Jets won 10 of their last 11 regular-season games. He posted a career-high 101.6 passer rating that season and was named to the Pro Bowl as he led the Jets to their first division title since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger and a berth in the AFC Championship Game. After missing all but one game due to injury in 1999, Testaverde returned to start each game for New York from 2000-01, leading the Jets to a 9-7 record in 2000 and a 10-6 mark and a playoff berth in 2001. After starting 11-of-12 games for the Jets from 2002-03, he joined the Dallas Cowboys as a free agent prior to the 2004 season. In his one year in Dallas, Testaverde started 15-of-16 games and recorded his sixth career 3,000-plus yard season, totaling 3,532 yards and 17 touchdowns on 297-of-495 passing.
Last season, Testaverde played in six games with four starts for the New York Jets after being signed on Sept. 27, 2005. In a game against the Patriots on Dec. 26, 2005, Testaverde set an NFL record for the most consecutive seasons with at least one touchdown pass, throwing for a touchdown in his 19th consecutive season.
Testaverde's career numbers include 6,526 attempts, 3,691 completions, 45,252 yards, 269 touchdowns, 261 interceptions and a 75.2 career passer rating. He has also recorded 413 career rushes for 1,647 yards (4.0 avg.) and 15 touchdowns. Testaverde has started at least one game and has thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of his 19 NFL seasons (1987-2005).
Mruczkowski, 26, was originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted rookie free agent on May 16, 2003. He has played in 17 games for New England since originally joining the team in 2003 and had been released by the Patriots on Sept. 30, 2006. 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. This season, Mruczkowski was listed as a gameday inactive for each of New England's first three games before being released on Sept. 30.
Mills, 23, was selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2006 NFL Draft (106th overall). The 6-foot-1-inch, 235-pound tight end was listed as a gameday inactive for each of New England's nine games this season. In his collegiate career, Mills recorded 201 receptions for the University of Tulsa, a mark that ranks second in Division I-A history among tight ends and third in school history among all players.