The Bucs continue to add free agents to their 2013 roster, the most recent of which is WR Steve Smith, who was a second-round pick of the Giants in 2007. Smith, who signed a one-year deal, will compete for the third receiver spot in Tampa Bay with Tiquan Underwood and Kevin Olgetree.
The Buccaneers did very little outside of signing Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson at the onset of free agency.
However, over the past week, Tampa Bay has made a flurry of signings, including former Philadelphia and New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith on Tuesday, which pushes the number of the team’s offseason acquisitions to nine. In the span of a few days the Bucs have signed defensive tackle Derek Landri, running back Brian Leonard, defensive end George Selvie, kicker Nate Kaeding and Smith, who signed a one-year deal worth $715,000, in addition to a $65,000 workout bonus, according to Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times, and might be the most interesting addition of them all.
Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan coached Smith, a former second-round pick of the Giants in 2007, when he coached the wide receivers in New York and saw him explode for a career-high 107 catches for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009. Smith made the Pro Bowl that season and became the first Giant in team history to eclipse 100 catches in a season.
The Bucs hope that Smith can recapture his productivity in Sullivan’s offense, which is very similar to that of the Giants’. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Smith is expected to compete with Tiquan Underwood and new addition Kevin Olgetree for the team’s third receiver spot behind Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
The Bucs now have seven receivers on their 2013 roster, including the aforementioned players, in addition to Chris Owusu and David Douglas.
As a rookie in 2007, Smith became an important weapon on third down for Eli Manning, catching four of his five passes in Super Bowl XLII on third downs to help the Giants beat the New England Patriots, 17-14.
Smith has battled injuries during his NFL career and has only played in all 16 games just twice in his five years in the league, which came during the 2008 season, in which he caught 57 passes for 574 yards and one score, in addition to his record-breaking 2009 campaign.
Smith played in just nine games due to a knee injury in 2010 that required microfracture surgery, catching 48 passes for 529 yards and three TDs.
Philadelphia signed Smith to a one-year, $2 million contract and started the 2011 season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list due to his recovery from microfracture knee surgery, but never regained his form from his days as a Giant, catching just 11 passes for 124 yards and one touchdown in nine games. He was later put on injured reserve with a bone bruise on the same knee he had microfracture surgery on.
Smith was signed by St. Louis on March 26, 2012, and caught 14 passes for 131 yards in nine games seeing limited duty.
The signing of Smith marks the ninth free agent signing by Tampa Bay during free agency. The Bucs have also signed Goldson, Landri, Leonard, Selvie, Kaeding, Olgetree, tight end Tom Crabtree and linebacker Jonathan Casillas over the past three weeks.
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