With their starting quarterback’s season in jeopardy, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secured an insurance policy Tuesday by trading an undisclosed 2006 draft pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for QB Tim Rattay.
Rattay, 28, is in his sixth year in the NFL. He’s completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 3,941 yards and tossed 24 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 32 career games.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Rattay originally entered the NFL in 2000 as a seventh-round draft pick out of Louisiana Tech. He’s played in a West Coast offense that’s similar to the one Bucs head coach Jon Gruden runs in Tampa Bay and played in 32 pro games with 16 starts, four of which came this season before he was benched in favor of the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, QB Alex Smith.
“We’re obviously excited about acquiring Tim,” said Bucs general manager Bruce Allen. “He is somebody that we looked at this offseason and had some dialogue with the 49ers. We feel he will be a great fit for our team. He’ll come in and be our No. 3 quarterback behind Chris (Simms) and Luke (McCown). It gives us some great insurance and a feeling that we can sleep at night with a bonified NFL starter.”
The Bucs had to create a roster spot for Rattay on Tuesday, but they didn’t do it by placing QB Brian Griese on injured reserved, which was a move anticipated by many since several reports have suggested that Griese suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee during the second quarter of Sunday’s game vs. the Miami Dolphins.
Instead, Tampa Bay released rookie fullback Rick Razzano, who entered the NFL in April as a seventh-round draft pick.
While the Bucs are holding out hope that Griese can return to action at some point this season, they’ve made it clear that they’re preparing Simms to be their starting quarterback.
All indications are that Griese’s knee injury is serious, but the Bucs want to be sure about the extent of his injury before placing him on IR, which would make him ineligible to return this season.
“We’re getting some more analysis of his injury,” Allen said of Griese. “He’s still on the team. He wants to play. We’re hopeful that he can, but we’re going to get the proper medical opinions.”
Tampa Bay also had to create some salary cap room in order to trade for Rattay as it was only $250,000 under the league-mandated cap. While the player or players who restructured their contract(s) is not yet known, the Bucs may have reworked a deal for Rattay, whose base salary for this season is approximately $1.1 million, according to NFLPA.org. Allen acknowledged the fact that the Bucs did indeed do some cap maneuvering before the trade was executed.
“There’s been some dancing,” said Allen.
Although the injury was unfortunate, the timing couldn’t have been better for the 5-1 Bucs, who are in their bye week. The team worked out several free agent quarterback Tuesday at One Buc Place, including former Bucs QB Shaun King, but Tampa Bay made progress in its negotiations with San Francisco and managed to execute the trade for Rattay before the NFL trade deadline, which was set for 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
“If Brian was going to get injured, it’s nice that it happened now because you’re not going to be able to acquire somebody that has been in training camp, who has been the starter this season in the NFL and someone you feel is a good fit for our offense after the trade deadline,” said Allen. “In some ways the timing of the injury was beneficial.”
Rattay, who completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 667 yards and tossed five touchdowns and six interceptions this season, will make the trip to San Francisco with his new team on Oct. 30 when the Bucs play the 49ers.
Tampa Bay also made three practice squad moves on Tuesday, re-signing rookie wide receiver Paris Warren, who was released from the active roster last week, and releasing running back Ian Smart and tackle Drew Stronjy. The vacant practice squad spot is expected to be filled by Razzano if and when he clears waivers.
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