FOXBORO, Mass. -- The New England Patriots today acquired quarterback Doug Flutie from the Chicago Bears and expect the former Heisman Trophy winner to play with the replacement team Sunday, the team announced.
Flutie's agent, Bob Woolf, said the decision to break ranks with striking NFL players was 'very, very difficult' for Flutie.
'He agonized over the decision,' Woolf said. 'He's a great sympathizer with the strike. The New England Patriots are the only team he would have done that for, because he really feels he's coming home.'
Flutie, of Natick, Mass., won the Heisman in 1984 while leading Boston College to a victory in the Cotton Bowl. He was signed by the Bears last year after spending a year in the now-defunct United States Football League.
Flutie, who was obtained for an undisclosed draft choice, is expected to be with the Patriots Sunday when they face Houston in a non-union game but it has not been determined if he will start, said Jim Greenidge, a Patriots spokesman.
'We're trying to do everything we can to win under the circumstances,' Coach Raymond Berry said of the acquisition. 'We need to improve our quarterback play. Our aim is to win. We will continue to try and upgrade our team at any position at any time.'
Flutie was scheduled to report to the team tonight.
Once the strike is settled, the Patriots will keep four quarterbacks, Berry said. Tony Eason will remain as the team's starting quarterback, with Steve Grogan, Tom Ramsey and Flutie in reserve.
The Patriots contacted the Bears Monday to seek permission to speak with Flutie, Greenidge said. Once a deal had been struck with Flutie, the Bears received Flutie's permission to trade him.
Woolf said Flutie would receive a better chance to play in New England than he did in Chicago.
'The attitude will be different,' Woolf said. 'For whatever reason, the attitude in Chicago recently has been somewhat negative, and it should be better here for Doug.
'I'm not surprised that the New England Patriots would want him,' Woolf said.
Flutie last year completed 23 of 46 passes for 361 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He was 11 for 31 for 134 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in Chicago's playoff loss to the Washington Redskins.
Flutie won the Heisman Trophy after setting the NCAA all-time passing record with 10,579 yards.
He signed with the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in 1985, where he completed 134 of 281 passes for 2,190 yards with 13 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.