The Tampa Bay Buccaneers missed out on signing prized free agent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth on Friday morning, but made a nice recovery in the afternoon by trading two draft picks to Cleveland for tight end Kellen Winslow II.
"This is a new opportunity,” Winslow said. “Cleveland was great to me. I had a good time in Cleveland. … I’m excited to be here. I’m ready to go.
“I’m a competitive player. I’m a passionate player. I’m a leader and I’m coming here to win. We’re going to win a lot of games.
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks reported that the Bucs gave up a second-round pick in this year's draft and a fifth-round pick in next year's draft.
"Today's trade with Cleveland fits in with the new direction we are establishing for the Buccaneers franchise," said Bucs general manager Mark Dominik in a statement released by the team. "We are very excited to add an explosive, dynamic playmaker to our offense. We believe Coach Morris and his staff will be able to get the most out of Kellen's talents."
New Bucs tight ends coach Alfredo Roberts came from Cleveland this offseason where he coached the 25-year old Winslow and had some obvious input in the trade. The Bucs are expecting the fiery Winslow to come in and help provide leadership and intensity on offense in addition to stretching the field vertically in new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski's scheme.
Winslow, who was the sixth overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, caught 43 passes for 428 yards (10.0 avg.) and three touchdowns for the Browns while playing in 10 game in 2008 – missing six games due to injuries.
Despite being considered one of the fastest and most talented tight ends in the NFL, Winslow has had his share of injuries. A broken leg ended his rookie season after two games, and then he suffered trauma to his knees and shoulder stemming from a motorcycle accident that cost him the entire 2005 season, in which he also battled a staph infection. Winslow told the Tampa Bay media that he has grown and learned from his past experiences and mistakes.
After finally getting healthy enough to play and catching a career-high 89 passes for 875 yards (9.8 avg.) and three touchdowns in his third NFL season, Winslow had his best output the next year in 2007, catching 82 passes for 1,106 yards (13.5 avg.) and five touchdowns. The University of Miami product led the Browns in receiving yards in both '06 and '07.
In 2006, Winslow’s 89 receptions tied a franchise record for tight ends in Cleveland set by Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome.
The acquisition of the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Winslow gives the Bucs a pass-catching weapon at tight end and likely signals the end of Jerramy Stevens’ tenure in Tampa Bay. Stevens led the Bucs in touchdown catches (four) in his first year with the team in 2007, and had a team-high 36 catches for 397 yards.
Winslow has already played with some current Buccaneers, such as quarterback Luke McCown, wide receiver Antonio Bryant and center Jeff Faine, who all spent time in Cleveland in 2004.
“He’s a great quarterback and he’s going to compete for a starting job,” Winslow said of McCown. “We’ll see how it goes. … Luke is one of the best men I know. I’m ready to go right now.”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org