TE/HB Hape returns to league after year-long absence

Free agent jack-of-many-trades Patrick Hape was reunited with his former offensive coordinator, signing a contract with the Houston Texans on Wednesday after being out of the league in 2005.

The deal brings together Hape and first-year Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, who as Denver coordinator always found creative ways to utilize the versatile eight-year veteran. Hape, who turns 32 next week, can play tight end, H-back and fullback, and also on special teams.

If he earns a spot on the Houston roster, Kubiak will probably use him in all those spots.

The Texans have been seeking a veteran backup to fullback Jameel Cook and Hape certainly can fill that role. And he is a nice addition to a tight end contingent that already includes tough in-line blocker Mark Bruener and another former Denver starter, Jeb Putzier, a rare deep threat at the position.

Hape has always been a very good receiver in the red zone, as evidenced by his 5.6-yard average per catch, and should help the Texans in that area.

In eight seasons, Hape has only 51 receptions for 287 yards, but 11 of those catches have been for scores. He has just one career catch of more than 20 yards. The former Alabama standout isn't necessarily a classic lead blocker when aligned at fullback, but is effective in motion as an H-back.

Originally a fifth-round draft choice of Tampa Bay in 1997, Hape played four seasons for the Bucs before signing with the Broncos in 2001. He also played four seasons for the Broncos, all of them with Kubiak as his offensive coordinator, but was released last summer.

Hape auditioned for some teams after his release in 2005 but was not signed by any of them. For his career, he has appeared in 124 games.

Details of his contract with the Texans were not yet available.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.