In a surprising turn of events, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed free agent tight end Dallas Clark and announced they have traded Kellen Winslow to the Seahawks for an undisclosed draft pick.
Clark had been with the Indianapolis Colts for nine years, having been taken 24th overall in 2003. The productive tight end was a favourite target of future hall-of-fame quarterback Peyton Manning, and developed a reputation as an elite receiving threat, but is not given much credit as a blocker.
With the Colts, Clark caught 427 balls for 4,887 yards and 46 touchdowns, so it was a surprise when not many teams were showing interest when he hit free agency.
Even when Manning eventually signed with the Denver Broncos after his high-profile release by the Colts, there was no spot on the tight end needy Broncos for the 33-year-old Clark.
Tampa’s signing of Clark is in many ways a downgrade, as Kellen Winslow is still one of the most complete tight ends in the league, having a tremendous ability to block and be a danger in the passing game. He’s been slowed by injuries the last couple of seasons, but is still more of a complete package than Clark.
Last season Winslow was often seen screaming at Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, and there was reportedly bad blood between the tight end and Tampa. With new coach Greg Schiano in town, and being a noted high-character guy, the decision to move the problematic Winslow was made easier by Clark being still on the street.
Winslow was originally acquired from the Cleveland Browns in a trade in 2009, for a second and fifth-round draft pick. He had several productive seasons for Tampa, having caught 218 passes for 2,377 yards and 12 touchdowns in his three years there.