Patriots upgrade at TE with Chris Baker


If the New England Patriots can generate as much production from Chris Baker as he delivered two and three years ago, then he will outperform all of their other tight ends combined.

The Patriots are expected to announce Friday they have signed Baker, who spent his first seven NFL seasons with the New York Jets.

Baker's numbers faded last year for the Jets, who drafted Dustin Keller in the first round and signed veteran Bubba Franks. Baker finished with 21 catches for 194 yards and zero touchdowns.

But Baker's previous two seasons were much more effective. In 2007, he had 41 receptions for 409 yards and three touchdowns. In 2006, he had 31 catches for 300 yards and four touchdowns.

The Patriots have wanted more contributions from their tight ends for years.

Last year's duo, Benjamin Watson and David Thomas, combined for 31 receptions, 302 yards and two touchdowns. Also on New England's roster are Tyson DeVree and Brad Listorti, prospects with no NFL receptions.

The addition of Baker and running back Fred Taylor make an already remarkable Patriots offense even more versatile. Taylor adds depth to the backfield, while Baker could be the target they hoped when they drafted Watson 32nd overall in 2004.

Watson had fine seasons in 2005 and 2006, but he has a history of injuries.