The Washington Redskins announced yesterday the signing of tight end Fred Baxter, who is expected to provide depth at tight end.

The 12-year veteran played the past two seasons with the New England Patriots after stints with the New York Jets (1993-'99) and the Chicago Bears (2001-'02).

Baxter signed a one-year contract worth $760,000, the NFL minimum for a player with his years of service. Walter Rasby is Washington's projected starter at tight end; third-year veteran Robert Royal likely will be a reserve.

The addition of the 6-foot-3, 268-pound Baxter gives the Redskins seven tight ends, an unusually high number because the position is critical to Coach Joe Gibbs's offense. Chris Cooley, Brian Kozlowski, Mike Sellers and Kevin Ware are competing to be the starting H-back, a tight end who normally lines up off the line of scrimmage or in the backfield and is used more as a wide receiver. The other tight end in Gibbs's offense will line up on the line of scrimmage and primarily serve as a blocker.

The Redskins plan to activate four tight ends on game days, while most teams carry only two or three on the active roster. Washington appears likely to release one or two tight ends before the regular season.

-- Nunyo Demasio