Wide receiver Keenan McCardell doesn’t want to be a Buccaneer anymore.

He made that crystal clear when asked about his holdout as a guest on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown.”

“I just want to be treated fair,” McCardell told ESPN’s Stuart Scott. “It’s pretty simple. I want a new deal and the Bucs don’t want to pay me. I’m a Pro Bowl receiver, so basically we might as well go our separate ways.”

McCardell, who caught a team-leading 84 passes for 1,174 yards and scored a career-high nine touchdowns last season, missed all of Tampa Bay’s voluntary and mandatory offseason practices, and all of the team’s training camp workouts while holding out for a new contract that would pay him like the team’s No. 1 receiver, or at least more than WR Joey Galloway, who is scheduled to earn roughly the same amount ($2.5 million) as McCardell this season.

A 2003 Pro Bowl selection, McCardell is believed to be looking to be paid $2 million more per season, but the Bucs aren’t willing to give him a penny more, citing the fact that McCardell is one of the highest-paid 34-year-old receivers in the NFL and has two years remaining on his contract.

When McCardell failed to report to training camp on July 31, Tampa Bay placed him on the non-active reserve list, which means he doesn’t account for an active roster spot since he’s a holdout.

McCardell’s representatives and Bucs general manager Bruce Allen haven’t talked since June 20 and are clearly at a stalemate, which doesn’t give anyone any reason to believe the 12-year veteran’s holdout will come to an end anytime soon.

“I haven’t talked to them since Father’s Day, so I don’t think I’ll be with them (when the regular season starts on Sept. 12),” said McCardell.

McCardell’s agent, Gary Uberstine, issued a statement on Aug. 3 that essentially asked the Bucs to release or trade his client. McCardell reiterated that sentiment on Monday night.

“Trade me or release me,” said McCardell. “Yeah, why not? They don’t want me back there, so it’s time to move on.

“These guys don’t want to talk, don’t want to negotiate. If you want to pay me, pay me, but if not, then let’s just move on. The Bucs said they’re ready to move on, and I’m ready to move on, too.”

The Bucs haven’t given in to McCardell’s contract demands and they probably won’t give in to his request to be released or traded, either. The Bucs expect McCardell to honor the final two years of his contract, which is scheduled to pay him a total of $5.25 million.

McCardell said he is prepared to sit out the entire 2004 season, endure daily fines and forfeit his $2.5 million salary if the Bucs do not give him a new deal.

“I’m ready to sit out the entire season,” said McCardell. “I sat down with my wife and my dad and we talked about it. My dad taught me something when I was little. When you feel like you’re right you’ve got to stand up and fight for it, so I’m going to do that. I’m ready to sit.”

And what if the Bucs eventually decide to make him a new contract offer?

“If we come to that crossroad I’ll see what it says, but right now I’m ready to get out of Tampa,” said McCardell.

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