Days in the making, the signing of tight end Christian Fauria was finally made official late Friday.
Terms of the deal were not announced by New England, but several reports have it being a three-year contract for $3.8 million, including an $800,000 signing bonus. Fauria fills a need for a starting tight end for the Patriots, who likely will not bring unrestricted free agent Rod Rutledge back next season.
The 30-year-old Fauria spent his entire seven-year career with Seattle before joining the Patriots. The former University of Colorado start has 166 career passes for 1,683 yards and seven touchdowns. Last season, he started 11 of 16 games and recorded 21 receptions for 188 yards.
The Seahawks drafted the 6-4, 245-pound tight end in the second round of the 1995 NFL draft. Fauria is the latest free agent brought in as a possible replacement for Ben Coates, who departed following the 1999 season. In 2000 Eric Bjornson came in and contributed, but was released midway through the season. Last year it was Johnny McWilliams, who failed to make the roster out of training camp.
With Rutledge on the outs, Jermaine Wiggins and 2001 rookies Jabari Holloway and Arther Love are the other tight ends on the roster. Wiggins had several big catches in both the regular season and playoffs, but is limited and not seen as a starter. Neither Holloway nor Love played in their first season, and questions remain about their futures.
Fauria has been a starter for much of his career and, if he stays healthy, should handle the starting chores. A report out of New Orleans had Cam Cleeland close to a deal with the Patriots, but Cleeland was quoted in the Providence Journal as not knowing anything about a deal.