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Before the 2004 regular season ended, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had just two wide receivers — Michael Clayton and Joe Jurevicius — under contract for the 2005 season.
General manager Bruce Allen has since signed seven wide receivers to future contracts, but none of them are expected to fill the void the Bucs could have in the starting lineup should Joey Galloway sign with another team via free agency.
While he had trouble staying healthy, Galloway still managed to make a big impact on offense, especially toward the end of the season. He caught 33 passes for 416 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games.
The Bucs would like to have the speedy Galloway back to start at the X (split-end) receiver position and return punts, but they can’t afford to pay him $2 million, which is the salary he received in ’04. Even if Galloway and Tampa Bay strike a deal, the Bucs would be wise to secure an insurance policy due to questions regarding Galloway’s injury-prone past.
Perhaps that’s why Tampa Bay has been mentioned along with several other teams that could be interested in trading for controversial Minnesota WR Randy Moss.
Although several reports recently suggested that Moss was indeed on the trading block, Dante’ DiTrapano, who serves as Moss’ agent, told Pewter Report that the Vikings have assured him that there has been no trade talks regarding his client. DiTrapano did, however, say that he would be more than happy to discuss possible trading partners should he be informed that Moss is indeed on the trading block.
At first glance, Moss’ resume is impressive and would pique the interest of any team, including the Buccaneers. How could you not be interested in a receiver who has used his 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame to haul in 574 passes for 9,142 yards and 90 touchdowns since entering the league in 1998.
However, there are a couple of things that will keep the Bucs from trading for Moss.
First, the former first-round pick comes with some serious baggage. He’s gone on record saying that he plays when he wants to, and he’s been involved in some controversial incidents both on and off the football field, including squirting an official with a water bottle, air-mooning the Green Bay Packers home crowd after a touchdown in the playoffs and pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving and obstructing traffic.
Contrary to popular belief, the Bucs, who have been heavily criticized for not taking character into consideration when signing and retaining players, are looking for “team” players to help build for the future. In other words, the Bucs feel they need to land more Michael Claytons through the draft and via free agency.
Second, even if Tampa Bay wanted to trade for Moss, it would require compensation in the form of draft pick(s) and/or players, neither of which the rebuilding Bucs can afford to part ways with.
And given their current salary cap situation, the Bucs, who are approximately $14 million over the NFL-mandated salary cap, couldn’t afford Moss, who has cap values of $7.25 million (2005), $8.25 million (2006), $9.75 million (2007) and $11.25 million (2008) over the final four years of his contract, according to NFLPA.org.
In terms of demeanor, Tampa Bay had a similar-type receiver in Keyshawn Johnson, who is also often referred to as a selfish player. The Bucs wanted to get Johnson out of Tampa Bay so quickly because of his well-publicized feud with head coach Jon Gruden that trading him to Dallas cost the team a $7-million cap hit in 2004. That said, don’t expect the Bucs to trade for Moss, Bucs fans.
Don’t expect to see the Bucs trade for Redskins WR Rod Gardner, either. Although a report surfaced a few weeks ago that suggested Tampa Bay might trade for Gardner, sources recently told Pewter Report that the Bucs were not interested in trading for him.
Tampa Bay could, however, still float its name out there as a team interested in trading for Moss. One of the teams believed to be seriously interested in acquiring Moss is the Oakland Raiders, who probably won’t be able to re-sign WR Jerry Porter if they land Moss.
The Bucs, of course, would be interested in signing Porter if he were to hit free agency. Gruden coached him for two seasons in Oakland, and if Tampa Bay can’t re-sign Galloway, Porter (6-2, 220) could fill the void at the X receiver spot, where he caught 64 passes for 998 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
Although they butted heads during Porter’s first two seasons in the NFL, sources have told Pewter Report that a reunion between Porter and Gruden is well within the realm of possibility.
If Porter doesn’t become available or demands too much money, don’t rule out the possibility of the Bucs taking a wide receiver with its first round pick (5th overall). Tampa Bay would love to watch Michigan WR Braylon Edwards slip past San Francisco, Miami, Cleveland and Chicago. His impressive 6-foot-3, 208-pound frame, speed and athleticism would be a nice compliment to Clayton and would certainly justify staying put at the No. 5 spot in the first round.
And if the Bucs do entertain a trade and move down in the first round in order to acquire more picks, the team could select Oklahoma WR Mark Clayton (5-11, 187), who has great hands, route-running ability and speed, and arguably had the best performance of any player at the Senior Bowl.
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