Tampa Bay is in the market for a veteran wide receiver, but some of the players available to the Bucs and other NFL teams have already been acquired. The first day of free agency featured Nate Burleson signing with Detroit, Kevin Walter re-signing with Houston and Anquan Boldin being traded to Baltimore.
The first day of free agency will come and go without the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing a single player on the open market.
That shouldn't come as a surprise seeing as Bucs general manager Mark Dominik has attempted to temper fans' enthusiasm by saying a few times this offseason that Tampa Bay wouldn't be a big player in free agency and that the Bucs planned to build through the 2010 NFL Draft, where the team currently owns 10 selections and hopes to acquire a few more picks between now and April.
The Bucs, who were 3-13 last season - their worst since 1991 - have several needs on their roster, one of which is at wide receiver. A significant vacancy was created when Tampa Bay allowed starting WR Antonio Bryant to leave via free agency.
On a day where the Bucs have elected to essentially remain idle, several wide receivers available to Tampa Bay and other NFL teams have been acquired by new clubs. These developments appear to have watered down a pool of wide receivers that wasn't considered strong to begin with.
Seattle free agent WR Nate Burleson signed with Detroit, inking what was reportedly a five-year, $25 million contract with the Lions. In addition, Houston reportedly re-signed WR Kevin Walter to a multi-year contract.
With the exception of Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers signing with the Chicago Bears, the biggest move of the day came when Arizona traded WR Anquan Boldin to the Baltimore Ravens on Friday evening. The Ravens sent their 2010 third- and fourth-round draft picks to the Cardinals while Arizona gave Baltimore its 2010 fifth-round pick as part of the trade. According to ESPN, Baltimore signed Boldin to a four-year, $28 million contract extension that includes $10 million in guaranteed money.
Another trade appears to be brewing and could go down as early as Saturday, which is when Denver restricted free agent WR Brandon Marshall reportedly is scheduled to visit Seattle.
Marshall, who has produced three straight 100-catch seasons for the Broncos while battling off the field issues, was tendered a contract by Denver that would require any team that signs him to a offer sheet to send their first-round pick to the Broncos.
The Seahawks, who own two first-round picks, are apparently considering making the trade for Marshall. The deal would require the Seahawks to give the Broncos their first-round pick, which is the sixth overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Should Marshall be acquired by Seattle or another team, the pickings will be slim for the Buccaneers in terms of landing a starting-caliber wide receiver in free agency or via a trade with another team. Tampa Bay could also draft a receiver high in April, but the Bucs would like to get second-year quarterback Josh Freeman a more experienced receiver to work with, and a more reliable one than WR Michael Clayton, who caught just 16 passes and dropped nearly a dozen balls after signing a five-year, $23 million deal with Tampa Bay last year.
Bryant is arguably the best available free agent receiver on the open market, but the Bucs have already said they will not bring him back. Some of the receivers that remain available in free agency that the Bucs could target include Chris Chambers (Kansas City), Torry Holt (Jacksonville), Terrell Owens (Buffalo) and Derrick Mason (Baltimore). However, each of these players is over the age of 30 and it's unclear whether the Bucs, who embarked on a youth movement last year, would be willing to sign them.
As of right now, the Bucs have Clayton, Sammie Stroughter, Terrence Nunn, Micheal Spurlock and Mario Urrutia under contract for the 2010 season. Wide receivers Mark Bradley and Maurice Stovall have been tendered contracts as restricted free agents and are expected to re-sign with the team.
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