The move came after the Patriots lost two straight for the first
time since 2002 as Tom Brady played two of his poorest games. Until
signing Testaverde, New England had only one other quarterback on
its roster, second-year pro Matt Cassel.
Testaverde, who turned 43 Monday, was the first overall pick by
Tampa Bay in the 1987 draft. He has played 19 NFL seasons and has
269 touchdown passes, eighth in NFL history, and is sixth with
45,252 yards passing.
Wednesday, Belichick stressed that the signing had nothing to do with Brady or Cassell's health, adding that Testeverde will be the third quarterback behind Cassell. He said the Patriots had wanted to bring in Testeverde earlier, but had other roster needs that had to be addressed first, and that he was signed because he can still play, not as a veteran mentor.
"I think the most important thing is that if he has to play, Vinny has a lot of experience, and I think in an emergency he can run our offense without many [repetitions]," Belichick said. "If you have an emergency, I think he'd be able to go in there and be able to run the team in that third spot."
Brady has been listed as probable on the injury report every
week for last season and this season, but hasn't missed a game.
On Monday, after a 17-14 loss to the New York Jets dropped the
Patriots to 6-3, coach Bill Belichick was asked if Brady's throwing
shoulder, the reason he's been on the list, affected him.
"I think he's been able to play in every game, so you'd have to
ask him that," Belichick said of Brady, who only meets with
reporters on Wednesdays. "There probably isn't a player in the
league that plays every week that's 100 percent today. He's
probably in that category."
Asked if Brady has seemed hampered in his performance, Belichick
said, "I think that Tom has had good days, good weeks of practice.
I just think overall, we collectively as a team -- coaches, players,
everybody -- we just have to do a better job. I think we all feel
that way. That includes everybody."
In Testaverde, joining his sixth NFL team, the Patriots get a
player whose experience is at the opposite extreme of Cassel.
The Patriots drafted Cassel in the seventh round in 2005 after
he threw just 33 passes at Southern California as the backup to
Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. As a rookie, he played only in the
final regular-season game. This year, he appeared only in a 31-7
win at Minnesota, but didn't throw a pass.
That was Brady's best game of the season. He threw four
touchdown passes, completed 67.4 percent of his passes and had a
115.6 passer rating. In a win at Buffalo the previous week, he had
a 112.4 rating and completed two-thirds of his passes for two
touchdowns and no interceptions.
But since the Minnesota game, Brady threw four interceptions and
had a 34.0 rating in a 27-20 loss to Indianapolis, then had an 84.9
rating with one touchdown pass and one interception against the
Jets. He's completed 59.2 percent of his passes this season for 15
touchdowns and nine interceptions, a few of which were tipped.
Testaverde has played for Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore,
Dallas and the Jets. He retired after playing with the Cowboys in
2004, but last season rejoined the Jets, for whom he played from
1998-2003, after starter Chad Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler
were injured in the same game.
Testaverde, who started four games for the Jets last season,
became the first player in NFL history to throw at least one
touchdown pass in 19 straight seasons. He completed 60 of 106
passes for 777 yards with one touchdown and six interceptions. He
was subsequently replaced by Brooks Bollinger, who had started the
season as the team's third stringer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.