Patriots Start Free Agency Signing Baker and Taylor

The Patriots have had a busy first day in free agency, as the team has reportedly come to terms with two name players – running back Fred Taylor and tight end Chris Baker.

Baker lost his starting job with the New York Jets last season due to the emergence of rookie Dustin Keller, and was recently let go by the team. He had spent his entire seven-year career with the Jets, had 21 receptions for 194 yards last season.

While Baker seems to be a shoe-in for the starting job, he will start 2009 by competing with starter Benjamin Watson and David Thomas for playing time.

Taylor comes to New England after being let go by the Jaguars earlier in the offseason. He was scheduled to earn a base salary of $6 million in 2009 and was also due a $1 million bonus in coming weeks.

The back comes with an impressive resume, as he’s the 16th-leading rusher in NFL history with 11,271 yards and 60 touchdowns. He visited on Wednesday with Bills officials. At the time, there were strong indications Taylor would sign with the Patriots’ AFC East rival. But the Patriots persuaded Taylor to leave Buffalo without a contract, and coach Bill Belichik’s sales pitch won him over.

He will compete with fourth-year veteran Laurence Maroney for the starting job.

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