Another member of the 2002 Super Bowl champion Buccaneers has left the team. On Tuesday, Michael Pittman signed with the Denver Broncos. He will join former Buccaneers safety John Lynch in Denver. Pittman was a Buc for the past six seasons. The Broncos and Pittman agreed to a one-year deal.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Pittman's agent Drew Rosenhaus commented on the signing.
"There's a lot of ways Michael can help the Broncos," Rosenhaus said. "He can play fullback, halfback, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, return punts and return kicks. He's a versatile back."
Last season Pittman had 68 carries for 286 yards, an average of 4.2 yards per carry, and no touchdowns. Pittman hurt his ankle and missed six games in the middle of the season. The 6-foot, 228-pound Pittman had 26 receptions for 191 yards and no touchdowns last season.
Unfortunately, opportunity stopped knocking for Pittman in Week 5 when he sustained a severely sprained ankle in Indianapolis just one week after running back Carnell Williams went down with a torn patellar tendon.
Before that injury occurred, Pittman had posted impressive numbers vs. St. Louis (seven carries for 56 yards and three catches for 35 yards) and Carolina (15 carries for 90 yards). His 29-yard run vs. Carolina was the longest run of the season for any Buccaneers running back.
But Pittman wasn't the same after that injury. He missed four games (five weeks) of action and attempted to come back early from the injury vs. Atlanta. But his return was short-lived as he re-injured his ankle, this time tearing ligaments in his leg.
Pittman's best season as a Buccaneer came in 2004 when he ran 926 yards on 219 carries for an average of 4.2 yards per carry. That same season, Pittman hauled in 41 receptions for 391 yards. He totaled 10 touchdowns, seven rushing and three receiving.
Pittman finishes his six-year tenure in Tampa Bay ranked fourth all-time in Bucs history with 3,364 rushing yards. He has rushed for 5,309 yards rushing (4.0 avg.) and 21 touchdowns during his 10-year NFL career.
Even though he is regarded as a solid receiver and blocker, Pittman also owns four of the 16 longest runs in Tampa Bay history, including a 78-yard run vs. Kansas City in 2004 that still ranks as the longest in team history.
Pittman helped Tampa Bay win Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, but his role in head coach Jon Gruden's offense has been reduced since the team invested a first-round draft pick in Williams in 2005.
After touching the ball a total of 260 times in 2004, Pittman has averaged just 99 touches per season over the last three years.
Pittman made the most of those opportunities. After averaging over four yards per carry just one time in his first five seasons in the NFL, Pittman has averaged 4.2, 4.9 and 6.2 yards per carry, respectively, over the past three years.
Tampa Bay was interested in re-signing Pittman, who turns 33 in August, until it signed Dunn to a two-year, $6 million contract on Mar. 10. Tampa Bay has four veteran running backs, Earnest Graham, Williams, Bennett and Dunn – on its offseason roster. They also have young running backs Kenneth Darby, Cory Boyd, and Clifton Smith on the roster.
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