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Friday, March 15, 2002
Pats reach agreement with free agent Fauria

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Continuing to sign moderately priced players capable of contributing in areas of need, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on Sunday reached a contract agreement with unrestricted free agent tight end Christian Fauria, ESPN.com has confirmed.

Fauria, 30, spent all seven previous NFL seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, including the last four as a starter. He became expendable when the Seahawks re-signed another unrestricted free agent tight end, Itula Mili, last week.

The former Colorado standout will sign a three-year contract worth $3.8 million, and the deal includes an $800,000 signing bonus.

The tight end position has been an area of obvious need for the Pats ever since the performance of former standout Ben Coates began to decline three years ago. Coates was eventually released and New England has never really found a suitable replacement.

No tight end has caught more than 20 passes for the Patriots in the past two seasons and Jermaine Wiggins was the leading receiver for the team in 2001, with 14 catches.

Fauria has battled injuries, including a chronic back problem, in the past. But he provides the Pats a consistent veteran, a willing blocker and solid receiver. Over the past four seasons, Fauria has averaged 13 starts per year.

For his career, he has 166 catches, 1,683 yards and seven touchdowns in 103 appearances and 73 starts. His best season came in 1998, when he caught 37 passes. In 2001, he started in 11 of his 16 appearances and posted 21 catches for 188 yards and one touchdown.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.