Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis got hot under the collar on a conference call with Tampa Bay reporters when he was asked about wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe, who was drafted by Cincinnati in the sixth round and was picked up by the Buccaneers after he was released at the end of the preseason and placed on Tampa Bay’s practice squad.
But instead of paying Briscoe the standard practice squad salary of $5,200 per week, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik liked him so much that he has paid the rookie receiver the veteran league minimum of $310,000 to keep other NFL teams from signing him off the practice squad and onto their 53-man roster.
“When you overpay a guy on the practice squad, you create a problem in the system for teams,” scoffed Lewis. “I don’t know that teams want to set that precedent. They did with Dez.
“That’s not the great precedent for teams to set as we try to keep the NFL doing the things we’re trying to do as a league. It’s still a league of 32 teams and things are put together a certain way.”
Briscoe, who had 219 catches for 3,240 yards and 31 touchdowns in three years at the University of Kansas, was high on Tampa Bay’s draft board, but passed over due to the fact that the team had acquired Arrelious Benn in the second round and Mike Williams in the fourth round.
“They signed me up and paid me more than the practice squad usually gets, knowing that I will have a chance to really come in and help the team,” Briscoe said. “That shows their commitment to me and I appreciate it.”
Lewis, who wanted to sign Briscoe to the Bengals practice squad, certainly did not appreciate Dominik’s aggressive stance on claiming the former Jayhawk star. When asked to give a scouting report on Briscoe, Lewis bristled at the notion.
“He’s a Bucs player now,” Lewis said. “I think you should probably ask Raheem about that.”
Morris responded to Lewis' comments in his Wednesday press conference.
"I'm really not concerned about Marvin Lewis' comments about how we run our organization," said Morris. "It's a credit to our management, and our ownership, and what we want to do and how we wanted to go get him. That's really all there is to be said there. I heard that comment and that's Marvin's opinion."
Overpaying for non-rostered players like Briscoe isn’t the only unconventional move the Bucs are making with their practice squad. Because Morris has been so happy with the play of Briscoe and others on Tampa Bay’s practice squad, he has decided to bring his practice squad players on the road with the team to Cincinnati and the other road games. Traditionally, practice squad players are left behind and forced to watch the game on television.
“I walked into the team on Tuesday and told them I have a new policy change,” Morris said. “I’m traveling with my practice squad guys. I told them, ‘I’m looking at you guys when you go out there and practice every day. You guys are just as much a part of this team as anybody.’ What they give us is effort – the Dezmon Briscoes and guys like that – and the great looks they give us and the ability for those guys to maybe come up and help us one day.”