Tight end Jerramy Stevens spent the first five years of his NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on April 29.

If he can’t find a way to stay out of trouble outside of football, Stevens could find himself out of Tampa Bay and the NFL.

Stevens, 27, became an unrestricted free agent in March. Several teams, including Tampa Bay, were interested in signing him until he was arrested shortly after free agency began for investigation of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana.

Unfortunately for Stevens, that wasn’t his first off-the-field incident. He had previously pleaded guilty to reckless driving in 2003. Stevens was also convicted on a hit-and-run charge in 2000 after driving into a nursing home while he was attending Washington.

Despite having some off-the-field baggage, the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Stevens was still an intriguing prospect to the Buccaneers. The former first-round pick caught 130 career passes for 1,458 yards and 15 touchdowns with the Seahawks.

After meeting with Stevens, Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen determined Stevens was capable of –and willing to – clean up his act.

The Bucs signed Stevens to a one-year contract worth $600,000. Before they offered him a contract, the Bucs made it clear to Stevens that he would be on a short leash in Tampa Bay.

“They did,” Stevens said when asked if his off-the-field issues had to be addressed before he signed with Tampa Bay. “I think that shows that they have a great deal of confidence in me. I think I was real candid with Bruce Allen and Coach Gruden that I have made some mistakes in the past, and that I’m concentrating on moving forward. I’m thankful that they have given me the opportunity to do that here.”

Stevens’ deal did not include a signing bonus. It did, however, offer him the opportunity to prove that he’s capable of straightening out his life outside of football while resuming his football career.

“I see it as a huge opportunity,” said Stevens. “I’m in a program where everybody is excited to have me here and I’m really excited to be here and about the opportunity I have. This is a chance for me to go out here to prove that I’m a good teammate and a good player.”

If he can avoid off-the-field problems, Stevens could help the Bucs offense give opposing defenses some problems on the football field this year.

“My focus is definitely on moving forward,” said Stevens. “I’ve obviously had some issues in the past. I’ve learned from those, and I’m trying to keep those in the past. I am moving forward. I have a great opportunity here and I want to do the best I can and make the most of it.”

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