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.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have added defensive end Eric LeGrand from the University of Rutgers to its 90-man offseason roster – only he isn’t expect to play a snap because he’s paralyzed.
LeGrand was rushing down the field in a game against Army in 2010, when he attempted to tackle Malcolm Brown who had the ball. There was a nasty collision that broke two vertebrae in his spine, paralysing him from the waist down.
The hit was so devastating that then-Rutgers coach Greg Schiano made a controversial call for kickoffs to be banned completely, saying that students were now too big and too fast, and that it’s going to cause more injuries.
His alternate suggestion was to have teams punt from the 30-yard line to empty fields, or if they want a chance at keeping possession (like they would during an on-side kick), they can choose for a fourth-and-15 player from their own 30 yard line.
Despite his suggestion being largely ridiculed, and fans reacting by claiming that dangerous kickoff-returns are just ‘part of the game’, Schiano went on to move up to the NFL ranks as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Now that he’s at the helm of the Buccs, Schiano has speahearded Tampa Bay into making the symbolic signing of LeGrand to their active roster.
This report from Newsday sums it up pretty well:
“LeGrand became an inspiration to teammates at Rutgers, eventually being able to stand upright with the help of a metal frame. He resumed his studies via video conferences for the 2011 spring semester, and on Oct. 29, 2011, led the Scarlet Knights onto the field before a game.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are courting trade offers for starting cornerback Aqib Talib, according to Scott Reynolds of the Pewter Report.
Reynolds’ report is vague on the asking price (but such articles usually are), though Talib is a former first round draft pick.
Taken 20th overall in the 2008 NFL draft, Talib has been in the league for four seasons, and has amassed 17 interceptions (even with an injury-shortered 13 game stint last year).
Also on the trading block is Washington Redskins receiver Jabar Gaffney. Chris Russel of ESPN Radio 980 had the 11-year pro on his radio show, where he claimed the team has been shopping him around.
Gaffney was a second round pick in the 2002 NFL draft, and played college ball at the University of Florida.
Other rumours circulating on the trade block include Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel and Pittsburgh Steelers star wide receiver Mike Wallace.