Patriots sign former Eagles QB Mike Kafka

Patriots sign former Eagles QB Mike Kafka
January 24, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Mike Kafka was 11-for-16 for 107 yards and two interceptions in his Eagles career. (USA Today Images)

Mike Kafka, who began the 2011 season as the Eagles’ backup quarterback but spent last year out of football, signed a futures contract with the Patriots on Thursday, the Patriots announced on their web site.

This is the first time he’s been on an NFL roster since the Eagles released him on Aug. 31.

Kafka was considered a lock to make the Eagles’ roster this past season and return as Michael Vick’s backup, but the combination of a broken hand he suffered in the preseason opener against the Steelers and outstanding preseason performances by rookie Nick Foles and veteran Trent Edwards left Kafka as the odd man out.

Although he had workouts with the Patriots and Steelers during the season, Kafka went unsigned and was out of football all year.

After an outstanding preseason in which he completed 69 percent of his passes, Kafka opened the 2011 season as the Eagles’ No. 3, but when Vince Young missed the start of the regular season because of a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason finale against the Jets and Vick was unable to finish games against the Falcons and Giants in Weeks 2 and 3 because of injuries, Kafka was forced into his first NFL regular-season action.

In a national TV Sunday night game in Atlanta, Kafka went 7-for-9 for 72 yards, including a 43-yard completion to Jeremy Maclin, but his comeback bid fell short when Maclin dropped a fourth-down pass at the 16-yard-line that would have gone for a first down with 1:45 left and the Eagles trailing 35-31.

A week later, he was 4-for-7 for 35 yards and two interceptions late in a 29-16 loss to the Giants. By the time Vick got hurt again in November, Young was healthy, and Kafka hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since.

The Eagles drafted Kafka in the fourth round out of Northwestern in 2010. He was the fifth quarterback taken in the draft, after Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy. He spent his rookie season as the Eagles’ No. 3, behind Vick and Kevin Kolb. He was active for five games but didn’t get into a game.

Kafka is one of only three quarterbacks currently on the Patriots' roster. Tom Brady has been the starter since 2000, with the exception of 2008, when he got hurt on opening day in a game against the Chiefs and Matt Cassel started the entire season, earning a big contract with the Chiefs the following spring.

The Patriots also have Ryan Mallet, their third-round pick in 2011 out of Arkansas. Mallet has thrown only four passes in two years, all at the end of a 45-7 blowout win over the Rams in October.

The Patriots also signed wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, Kafka’s former teammate at Northwestern. Ebert spent Sept. 13-25 on the Eagles’ practice squad. Ebert was a seventh-round pick of the Patriots in 2012.

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