Shortly after Tampa Bay’s disappointing 2006 season ended, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden made it clear that his team would add arms to its stable of quarterbacks in 2007.
The Bucs recently began executing that plan by signing former Grambling State QB Bruce Eugene to a two-year contract, PewterReport.com is reporting.
Although he’s not expected to compete with Chris Simms for the starting quarterback job in Tampa Bay, Eugene could serve as competition for Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown, both of whom will be competing for the No. 2 and 3 signal caller spots on Tampa Bay’s 2007 roster.
The Bucs currently have four quarterbacks – Simms, Gradkowski, McCown and Eugene – under contract in 2007, and they will look to add a veteran signal caller to their roster via free agency or a trade during the offseason.
Eugene has been on Tampa Bay’s radar since he was entering the NFL during the 2006 offseason. In fact, former Grambling head coach and current Bucs personnel executive Doug Williams scouted Eugene and attended his pro day workout in ’06.
The 6-foot, 257-pound Eugene had an impressive collegiate career playing in the SWAC, where he won Offensive Player of the Year honors, the SWAC Championship Player of the Game, the Bayou Classic MVP award and Grambling’s Doug Williams award.
Eugene, who earned the nickname “Big Easy” and the “Round Mound of Touchdown,” actually played close to 300 pounds in college and dropped nearly 40 pounds to get into better shape for the NFL Draft. Although he wasn’t selected with a draft pick, Eugene signed as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints shortly after the 2006 NFL Draft concluded.
In college, Eugene played as big as his waistline. He was 11-1 as a starter in 2005 with his only loss (48-7) coming to Washington State, a Pac 10 team. His overall record at Grambling was 30-8 and he threw for 13,530 yards with 133 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
After tearing his ACL in the season opener in 2004 and missing his junior season, Eugene came back strong in 2005, completing 256 of 456 (56 percent) passes for 4,408 yards with a whopping 56 touchdowns to only six interceptions.
Despite carrying a big frame and more weight than the prototype quarterback, Eugene’s quickness and athletic ability allowed him to avoid being sacked a lot in college. In 456 pass attempts, Eugene was only taken down 19 times, and he was able to scramble for 129 yards on 81 attempts (1.6 avg.) and score three touchdowns.
Prior to his knee injury, Eugene rushed for 535 yards and nine touchdowns on 137 attempts (3.9 avg.) as a freshman and 412 yards and six scores on 94 carries (4.4 avg.) as a sophomore.
PewterReport.com reported earlier in the week that the Buccaneers had signed wide receivers Efrem Hill, Jovan Bouknight, Chad Owens and Kyle Smith, safety Tra Boger and linebacker Evan Benjamin to contracts.
The Buccaneers could allocate several of these players to NFL Europe later in the month.
Want the inside scoop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2007 offseason plans? Want to find out who the Bucs are targeting in free agency and the NFL Draft? Subscribe to PewterReport.com's Pewter Insider by clicking here.
Looking for the best selection of Tampa Bay Buccaneers merchandise? Pewter Report endorses Sports Fan-Attic, with 9 Tampa Bay area locations in most major malls. To shop for Bucs merchandise on the Internet, as well as the largest selection of NFL, NCAA, NBA, NHL, MLB and NASCAR, visit SportsFanAtticShop.com.