The re-signing of Tampa Bay wide receiver Edell Shepherd was a foregone conclusion, given his status as an exclusive rights free agent, which means that he could only negotiate with the Buccaneers. But Shepherd did ink a one-year deal worth $425,000 with the Bucs on Friday, according to NFLPA documents, and will be on hand at the team's FanFest activities at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday, June 3.
Shepherd entered the league with the Chicago Bears in 2002 and joined the Bucs in September of 2003, spending most of that year on the practice squad. After overcoming a broken foot suffered in the 2004 preseason that caused him to be placed on injured reserve that year, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Shepherd caught six passes for 103 yards and one touchdown as a backup receiver in 2005.
The speedy Shepherd averaged 17.1 yards per play and showed big-play potential in the Bucs' 36-35 victory over the Washington Redskins on November 13, catching three passes for 87 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter that proved to be the game-winner after Mike Alstott's two-point conversion run.
But Shepherd's rising stock fell sharply as the season went on when he fumbled the opening kickoff deep in Tampa Bay territory as overtime began against the Atlanta Falcons on Christmas Eve. Fortunately for Shepherd, Bucs defensive end Dewayne White blocked Atlanta's chip-shot field goal and Tampa Bay went on to win the game.
But two weeks later when the Redskins returned to Raymond James Stadium to face the Bucs, Shepherd dropped a potential game-tying touchdown pass in the game's final minutes. He appeared to catch the pass from Chris Simms, but couldn't maintain possession as he hit the ground.
The addition of third-round draft pick Maurice Stovall and David Boston, a recent free agent acquisition, adds a lot of competition to Tampa Bay's wide receiver position and will make it more difficult for Shepherd to once again win a roster spot.
In addition to Shepherd, the Buccaneers recently signed long snapper/defensive end Jordan Hicks to a two-year, league minimum contract, according to NFLPA documents. Hicks, a first-year player, spent the 2005 season with the Oakland Raiders. This past spring, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Hicks long-snapped for the Hamburg Sea Devils in NFL Europe.
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