Bucs Re-Sign, King, Benjamin and Yoder

April 4 - After a somewhat slow week of free agency news, Tampa Bay made a big splash Friday by re-signing quarterback Shaun King, long snapper Ryan Benjamin and tight end Todd Yoder. All three players signed one-year deals.

For the first time in his career, Shaun King will enter a new season without having to learn an entirely new offensive system.

That's because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed its free-agent quarterback to a one-year contract worth the league minimum Friday.

King, 25, did not receive much interest on the free agent market, and while the Bucs wanted him back, they were willing to wait while his value on the free agent market declined. While King tried to shop his services around the NFL, the Bucs signed free-agent quarterbacks Jim Miller and Shane Matthews to one-year contracts.

King will compete with both Miller and Matthews for the No. 2 spot behind starting QB Brad Johnson next season. King's familiarity with head coach Jon Gruden's offensive system should bode well for him in terms of securing a roster spot.

"I am excited to return," said King. "I think it is an excellent opportunity for me because I will finally get the chance to be in the same system for two years. I feel like it will show in my performance that I understand the offense and now I just need to master it."

Before playing in Gruden's offense last season, King had previously played for three offensive coordinators: Mike Shula (1999), Les Steckel (2000) and Clyde Christenson (2001).

Needless to say, the Bucs are looking forward to seeing what King can do in his second year in Gruden's system.

"It will be good to see Shaun have the opportunity to play within the same system for two years in a row," said Bucs general manager Rich McKay. "We had a lot of confidence in Shaun coming out of Tulane, he has played in many big games for us and we remain confident that Shaun is a winning quarterback in the National Football League."

A 1999 second-round draft pick out of Tulane, King has started 22 of the 28 games he's played in. He has completed 55.9 percent of his passes for 3,934 yards and he's tossed 25 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Despite having a 14-8 record as a starter in the NFL, King's stock dropped significantly over the last two seasons. King started just one game over the last two seasons and he spent most of the 2002 season as the Bucs' No. 3 signal-caller behind quarterbacks Brad Johnson and Rob Johnson.

King's only start over the last two years came against Pittsburgh last season, and he turned in one of the worst performances of his career in the Bucs' 17-7 loss to the Steelers on Monday Night Football.

Tampa Bay now has five quarterbacks under contract. The Bucs were expected to select a quarterback in the NFL Draft later this month, but the team's ability to re-sign King could decrease the likelihood of that scenario since the addition of another quarterback would give the Bucs a total of six signal-callers.

There are, however, several reasons why the Bucs would still elect to draft a quarterback later this month.

Although the team likes his potential, first-year QB Greg Zolman is inexperienced. Miller, who's recovering from torn rotator cuff surgery, won't be able to throw at full strength until June or July. King, Miller and Matthews each have one-year deals, which means there's no guarantee they'll be in Tampa beyond the 2003 season. Plus, if King and Zolman don't make the team and the Bucs don't draft a quarterback, the average age at the quarterback position will be 33, and the Bucs wouldn't have a quarterback to groom for the future.

In others free agency news, Tampa Bay re-signed exclusive right free agents Ryan Benjamin and Todd Yoder on Friday.

Benjamin, the team's long snapper, and Yoder, a reserve tight end, both signed one-year contracts with the Bucs.

A graduate of the University of South Florida, Benjamin signed with Tampa Bay last October and played in 10 regular season games and all three post-season contests.

Yoder, a four-year veteran, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Vanderbilt. While he's caught seven passes for 75 yards, Yoder's primary contributions have come on special teams where he has totaled 35 tackles.


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