PewterReport.com is reporting that Buccaneers tight end Jerramy Stevens likely will be suspended for two games in the 2008 season. The suspension is a result of punishment for the same incident — a DUI arrest and conviction — that prompted the NFL to suspend Stevens for the Bucs' 2007 regular season game against the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 16.
Stevens likely will miss Tampa Bay's first two regular season games of the year, at New Orleans on Sept. 7, and the home opener against Atlanta on Sept. 14.
Stevens decided to serve the first game of the suspension last year. The NFL had handed down a longer suspension and Stevens chose to serve one game, and appeal the remaining games.
According to sources, one of the reasons why Stevens chose to not serve the suspension fully last year was in an effort to help the team on their playoff push. Most players in the NFL opt to serve their entire suspensions before entering free agency in order for their next contract to not be impacted by the suspension. With the Buccaneers making a run for the playoffs, Stevens elected to appeal the decision and serve the majority of the suspension in 2008.
The suspension handed down by the NFL stems from several legal incidents Stevens has been involved in over the past eight years.
In March of 2007, Stevens was arrested for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. He was later convicted of the DUI charge in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Sept. 7, which ultimately led to his most recent suspension.
In 2003, he had pleaded guilty to reckless driving. Prior to that, Stevens, 28, had been convicted on a hit-and-run charge in 2000 after driving into a nursing home while he was attending Washington University.
In April of 2007, the Buccaneers signed Stevens to a one-year contract. If Stevens had any more legal, drug, or alcohol trouble the team would have been in a position to release him. However, last season Stevens stayed clear of any trouble, and according to sources, was a good teammate in Tampa Bay's locker room.
Stevens wasn't re-signed in the first wave of free agency in 2008 despite being a good teammate and a productive player last season. This was perhaps due to the public relations backlash after the Seattle Times wrote an article that detailed his prior arrests and alleged crimes at the University of Washington, and with the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks selected Stevens with their first-round pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.
In his one year in Tampa Bay, Stevens stayed out of trouble. With his good behavior off the field, and his production on it, the Bucs felt that Stevens earned another contract with the team. Tampa Bay was impressed with the fact that Stevens sacrificed his status in free agency in 2008 in order to help the team in 2007. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Stevens re-signed with the Buccaneers on May 30. Pewter Report reported that the contract was for one season worth $700,000 and did not include a signing bonus.
Last year, Stevens played 15 regular season games (three starts) and the team's playoff contest vs. the New York Giants. He had 18 receptions for 189 yards and four touchdowns. Stevens was second on the team in touchdown receptions last year. His four touchdowns came in the final month of the season. His four-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Luke McCown was the game-winning score for the Buccaneers in their crucial 27-23 win at New Orleans on Dec. 2. That game virtually clinched the division for Tampa Bay.
With Stevens likely facing a two-game suspension to start the 2008 regular season, the Buccaneers essentially will be able to begin the season with 54 players as opposed to the league-mandated 53 players. That scenario would allow Tampa Bay to carry an extra player on its 53-man roster in place of him. That would give the Bucs some additional time to delay making their final roster cut and evaluate who that player should be after some regular season contests.
Earlier in the offseason the Buccaneers signed free agent tight ends John Gilmore and Ben Troupe. They also signed lesser-known tight ends Tyrice Thompson and Donald Fells. The Bucs also have returning starter Alex Smith and backup Keith Heinrich on their roster.
A seven-year pro, Stevens has hauled in 148 passes for 1,647 yards and 19 touchdowns during his NFL career.
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