With Luke McCown’s 2006 season in jeopardy after sustaining a serious knee injury in mid-June, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured an insurance policy at the quarterback position on Thursday by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with former Miami Dolphins and New York Jets signal caller Jay Fiedler.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Fielder, 34, visited One Buccaneer Place on June 22, which was just one week after McCown had went down with a partially torn ACL he sustained during a voluntary organized team activity.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Fiedler gives the Bucs some much-needed depth at the quarterback position. Before Fiedler signed Thursday, Tampa Bay’s four healthy quarterbacks – Chris Simms, Tim Rattay, Bruce Gradkowski and Jared Allen — had combined for just 28 career regular season starts.

A 12th-year veteran, Fiedler has compiled a 37-23 record in his 60 career starts in the NFL. He’s also completed 58.7 percent of his career passes for 11,844 yards and tossed 69 touchdowns and 66 interceptions.

At least one other team – the New York Giants – was interested in acquiring Fielder’s services, but his previous playing experience under Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden and the team’s lack of depth at the quarterback position might have given the Bucs an edge over the Giants.

Fiedler spent the first three years (1994-96) of his career in Philadelphia, where he and Gruden, who served as the offensive coordinator for the Eagles from 1995-97, both were employed.

After a three-year stint in Philadelphia and a one-year hiatus in 1997, Fiedler joined the Minnesota Vikings in 1998. One year later, he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he started just one game.

Fiedler’s best year with Miami came in 2001 when he completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 3,290 yards and tossed 20 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Although his signing could prove to be valuable for the Bucs’ depth chart at quarterback, Fiedler is coming off of offseason shoulder surgery on his throwing arm. However, Fiedler indicated to the media last week that he’d be ready to throw again at full strength by the time the Bucs report to training camp on July 27.

In other news, the Bucs signed tight end Matt Kranchick Thursday. A former Steeler and Giant, Kranchick likely was added to the roster in an effort to help fill the void left by rookie TE T.J. Williams, who tore his Achilles tendon last week.

To make room for Fiedler and Krankchick on their offseason roster, the Bucs released wide receiver Ben Nelson and tackle Stefan Rodgers.


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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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