Stone will compete in several secondary spots

Bolstering their interior secondary with a veteran player, the Houston Texans have reached a contract agreement with unrestricted free agent safety Michael Stone, a five-year veteran who played for the New England Patriots in 2005.

Contract details were not immediately available.

Stone, 28, is coming off the most productive season of his career. He appeared in 13 games with the Patriots with a career-best 46 tackles. He started three games at strong safety after signing with New England in late September when injuries thinned the Patriots' depth chart.

Always a solid special teams player, Stone posted 17 tackles on kick coverage teams in 2005.

Houston has two young starters in the secondary -- second-year veteran C.C. Brown at free safety and third-year pro Glenn Earl at strong safety. Stone could serve as the primary backup to both; he has played both the safety spots in the past and even lined up at cornerback earlier in his career. He figures to provide depth and experience and could challenge for playing time in nickel situations.

A second-round choice of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2001 draft, Stone was regarded as the big, physical kind of hybrid defensive back most teams were seeking at the time. His combination of safety size and cornerback-level cover skills made the former University of Memphis star especially attractive. But a spate of injuries, including a knee injury that sideline Stone the entire 2003 season, slowed his progress.

Stone signed with St. Louis last spring as a free agent, but was released just before the start of the season. In his career, he has appeared in 50 games, has 83 tackles from scrimmage and more than 50 special teams tackles.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.