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Last week we took a closer look at the quarterbacks and running backs that the Buccaneers could target in free agency, or ones the team could possibly trade for at some point this offseason.
This week's installment of Flynn's Focus takes a closer look at the wide receivers and tight ends that are either scheduled to become free agents or ones that could become available via a trade or release.
Free agency begins on Feb. 29 and the Buccaneers have approximately $30 million in salary cap room to spend.
We'll use next week's installment of Flynn's Focus to take a closer look at the offensive and defensive linemen that the Bucs could target should they be released or traded by their respective teams. In the meantime, let's take a closer look at the wide receivers and tight ends.
WIDE RECEIVERS Free Agency Headliners Randy Moss (New England) – Moss (6-4, 210) might not even make it out of New England after posting record-breaking numbers en route to the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl in 2007. The Patriots could place the franchise tag on him or sign him to a long-term deal when free agency begins on Feb. 29. Moss caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards (15.2 avg.) and a single-season record 23 touchdowns. The former first-round pick has hauled in 774 career passes for 12,193 yards and 124 touchdowns. The Bucs expressed some interest in Moss, 30, when he was being shopped around by Oakland last year, and even if he hits the open market the Bucs could pass on him due to the long-term, lucrative deal he'll be looking for and the fact that he may not be happy in a role where the ball isn't being thrown his way as often as it was last season.
Donte` Stallworth (New England) – The Buccaneers need to add speed to the wide receiver position, which could make Stallworth (6-0, 200) a good fit in Tampa Bay should he hit the open market as scheduled. In addition to his speed, the Buccaneers like the fact that he's been an unselfish player throughout his career, accepting No. 2 and 3 receiver roles in Philadelphia and New England, respectively. Stallworth, 27, caught 46 passes for 697 yards (15.2 avg.) and three touchdown last year, his first in New England. He has big-play ability, which something the Bucs could use now and after WR Joey Galloway, 36, retires from the league. Seventy of Stallworth's 279 career catches have gone for 20-plus yards and 13 have gone for 40-plus yards. Stallworth also has a knack for finding the end zone, evidenced by his 31 career touchdowns in six seasons in the NFL.
Jerry Porter (Oakland) – Porter (6-2, 220) might not have the speed or team-first attitude the Bucs are looking for, but don't be surprised if Tampa Bay takes a hard look at bringing him in this offseason. Porter, 29, has caught 284 passes for 3,939 yards (13.9 avg.) and 30 touchdowns since entering the league as a second-round draft pick with Oakland in 2000. Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen each had a hand in drafting Porter that year, and their familiarity with him could prompt the Bucs to target Porter in free agency.
Devery Henderson (New Orleans) – Henderson (5-11, 200) needs to improve his route running skills and hands in the passing game, but at 25 he still has plenty of upside and his speed could make him a candidate to eventually succeed Bucs WR Joey Galloway. Henderson has caught just 74 passes over the past three seasons, but he's made the most of those opportunities, evidenced by the fact that he's averaged 20.2 yards per reception while scoring 11 touchdowns. New Orleans likely will allow Henderson, a former second-round pick, to test the open market, and Tampa Bay could address its need for speed by signing him.
Could Become Available Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) – He might not be the fastest receiver in the NFL, but Fitzgerald (6-3, 226) has a great combination of size and clutch hands. A former first-round pick, Fitzgerald hauled in 100 passes for 1,409 yards (14.9 avg.) and 10 touchdowns in 2007. However, he is scheduled to have a salary cap value of $16.485 million in 2008, which is why he could be shopped around or released. Fitzgerald, 24, might not have the speed the Bucs are looking for, but he does have playmaking ability, evidenced by his 34 career touchdowns and 72 receptions that have gone for 20-plus yards during his four-year career. The Bucs are looking for Joey Galloway's successor, but they also need to find a successor for WR Ike Hilliard, 32, and possibly an upgrade over younger WRs Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall, both of who have struggled to separate from opposing defensive backs on a consistent basis. If Arizona wants to swing a deal for Fitzgerald, the fact that the Bucs have Clayton, a former first-round pick, and/or Stovall to throw into the deal would certainly help, but the more likely scenario has the Cardinals restructuring his deal to keep him in Arizona.
Terry Glenn (Dallas) – Glenn (5-11, 195) has 593 career catches for 8,823 yards (14.9 avg.) and 14 touchdowns, but he's 33 and played in just one regular season game last year due to injury. If he can prove that he still possesses impressive speed the Bucs could sign him as a temporary fix. Should Glenn become available, Galloway and Glenn probably could co-exist together – they played together in Dallas in 2003 and played collegiately at Ohio State. Glenn could be released due to his base salary increasing from $820,000 to $1.74 million in 2008.
Chad Johnson (Cincinnati) – Johnson (6-1, 192) might be able to talk his way out of Cincinnati, or at least that's what he's attempting to do. If they decide to trade him, the Bengals likely will ask for a significant amount of compensation in exchange for Johnson, who has hauled in 559 passes for 8,365 yards (15.0 avg.) and 49 touchdowns and has four years remaining on his contract with the Bengals. Johnson, 30, has been able to stretch the field as a Bengal, but the Bucs might not be willing to bring in a player that has been deemed selfish by many around the league. Chad Johnson is also the cousin of former Bucs WR Keyshawn Johnson, and we all know how that relationship ended in Tampa Bay. The Bucs would have to have a lot of questions answered before they could even seriously consider pulling off a trade of this magnitude.
Amani Toomer (New York Giants) – Toomer (6-3, 203) helped the Giants win a Super Bowl last season, but he's 33 and past his prime. Toomer has caught 620 passes for 8,917 yards (14.4 avg.) and 50 touchdowns since he entered the league in 1996. That includes his 59-catch season in 2007. Toomer has been a productive player, but he probably doesn't have the speed or upside the Bucs are looking for at the wide receiver position, which means he probably won't land in Tampa Bay should New York release him this offseason due to his base salary increasing from $2.45 million to $3.1 million in 2008.
Javon Walker (Denver) – Walker (6-3, 216) wanted out of Green Bay after the 2005 season and now he wants out of Denver. The disgruntled receiver doesn't believe he's a good fit in Denver due to the way the Broncos have used him. Walker, 29, has caught 252 career passes for 3,815 yards (15.1 avg.) and 30 touchdowns in six seasons in the NFL. However, last year Walker caught just 26 passes for 287 yards in eight games due to a recurring knee injury. While he's well versed in the West Coast offense and played collegiately at Florida State, Walker might be looking to be traded to a team that will make him a No. 1 or 2 receiver in their offense. The Bucs might not be willing to guarantee Walker that opportunity. If Denver wants to move Walker, now might be the time to trade him since his base salary is scheduled to increase from $2.1 million in 2007 to $5.6 million in 2009.
TIGHT ENDS Free Agency Headliners Dallas Clark (Indianapolis) – The Bucs are looking for playmakers to help their offense, which ranked 18th last year and has struggled under head coach Jon Gruden, improve. Clark (6-3, 251) could help the Bucs do that should he hit the free agent market as scheduled on Feb. 29. Clark is one of the league's best tight ends and has played in one of the league's most explosive offenses in Indianapolis. He has caught 179 passes for 2,234 yards (12.5 avg.) and 25 touchdowns in five seasons. Clark, 28, is considered a solid all-around tight end, which the Bucs are looking for either to compete with – or replace – Alex Smith. Last season, Clark hauled in a career-high 58 passes for 616 yards and 11 touchdowns, which will likely make him quite expensive to sign. Indy still could place the franchise tag on Clark, but if it doesn't expect the Bucs to be interested in signing him. Jerramy Stevens (Tampa Bay) – Stevens' trouble past was brought to light again in a damning Seattle Times newspaper article published earlier in the year, but sources tell Pewter Report that the article didn't let tell the Bucs anything they weren't already aware of before they signed the troubled player to a one-year contract worth league minimum last April. To his credit, Stevens (6-7, 260) was a model citizen in his first season with the Bucs, and he was productive, too, catching 18 passes for 189 yards and four touchdowns. The Bucs believe Stevens is serious about turning his life around and aren't opposed to re-signing him. However, they'll likely let Stevens, 28, test the market and take a hard look at some other talented free agent tight ends before deciding whether to re-sign the former first-round draft pick.
Anthony Becht (Tampa Bay) – Becht was Tampa Bay's best blocking tight end over the last three seasons, but he might be looking for an opportunity to catch more passes. If that's the case, Becht (6-6, 280) likely will sign with another team. He caught just 39 passes in three seasons with the Bucs. There was a stretch of games last season where Tampa Bay was not pleased with the play of its tight ends. If they're going to lose Becht, 30, the Bucs are hoping that a deep free agent class of tight ends will allow them to find an upgrade.
Could Become Available Alge Crumpler (Atlanta) – Crumpler (6-2, 262) has established himself as one of the league's best pass-catching tight ends, hauling in 316 passes for 4,212 yards (13.3 avg.) and 35 touchdowns over the last seven seasons. However, the salary cap-strapped Falcons might need to release some talented players in order to create some much-needed cap room, and Crumpler, 30, is scheduled to earn a $? Million base salary in 2008. Last season, Crumpler caught 42 passes for 444 yards and five touchdowns. The Bucs would be interested in signing Crumpler, who has three years remaining on his contract and is scheduled to earn $3.4 million in base salary in Atlanta this year, if he became available via free agency. Jim Kleinsasser (Minnesota) – If Tampa Bay loses Becht in free agency, it could find a potential upgrade in Kleinsasser (6-3, 272), who is regarded as a blocking tight end. He hasn't been much of a receiving threat over the years, evidenced by his 11 catches since the 2006 season. However, Kleinsasser played an integral role in helping open up running lanes for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Adrian Peterson. Whether or not the Vikings believe Kleinsasser is worth the $2.4 million base salary he's scheduled to receive this year remains to be seen. But at 31, Kleinsasser might not have much long-term value for the Buccaneers or any other team. Jeremy Shockey (New York Giants) – Although he didn't play in the Super Bowl, Shockey (6-5, 251) had a hand in helping the Giants get to the playoffs. He caught 57 passes for 619 yards and scored three touchdowns in 2007 before breaking his leg. Shockey, 27, has caught 371 passes for 4,228 yards (11.4 avg.) and 27 touchdowns since entering the NFL as a first-round pick out of Miami in 2002. Shockey has been vocal and critical of his coaching staff and teammates at times, which could be a deterrent in terms of the Bucs signing him should he be released by the Giants due to the emergence of TE Kevin Boss and the fact that Shockey's base salary is scheduled to increase from $1.9 million in 2008 to over $3 million in 2009. But Bucs head coach Jon Gruden likely would be intrigued by Shockey's fiery demeanor and playmaking ability.
L.J. Smith (Philadelphia) – Tampa Bay wants better blocking from its tight ends, and Smith (6-3, 258) probably isn’t a player that will help tremendously in that area. He’s a better pass catcher. In fact, he’s one of the best at his position. Smith, 27, has hauled in 194 passes for 2,227 yards (11.5 avg.) and 15 touchdowns since entering the league in 2003. The Eagles have slapped the franchise tag on him, means he's not available right now. However, if Smith, who is very familiar with the West Coast offense, is shopped around expect the Bucs to express interest in acquiring him.
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