Flynn's Focus

March 11 – The Buccaneers didn't do anything wrong when they added competition to their quarterback position, but perhaps Tampa Bay should have used the $1 million or so they spent on Rob Johnson and applied it toward purchasing the services of a veteran wide receiver. A closer look at both the Buccaneers wide receiving corps and the available free agent receivers is in order for this installment of Flynn's Focus.

Competition can only make players better, and the Bucs added it to their quarterback position on Saturday when they agreed to terms with QB Rob Johnson.

While there's nothing wrong with adding another veteran arm to Tampa Bay's quarterback corps, perhaps they should have used the $1 million or so on a veteran wide receiver.

Tampa Bay currently has six wide receiver under contract, but four of them have two or less years of experience in the National Football League. Here's a look at the Bucs wide receivers.

2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wide Receivers as of 3/11/02

Keyshawn Johnson (6-4, 212) Johnson brings seven years of experience to the offense and is the No. 1 receiver on the team.

Frank Murphy (6-0, 206) Murphy is the fastest player on the team, but he's still trying to make the transition from his running back days in college to the wide receiver position in the pros.

Milton Wynn (6-2, 208) Wynn had a chance to groom in his rookie season last year, and he could be a solid No. 3 receiver in head coach Jon Gruden's offense.

Darryl Daniel (5-11, 190) Daniel spent the end of last season on Tampa Bay's practice squad.

E.G. Green (5-11, 188) Green could be a deep threat, but he had problems staying healthy in Indianapolis.

Jermale Kelly (6-2, 200) Kelly brings size to the team, but he's still an unproven player.

One of the reasons Tampa Bay's offense struggled under Tony Dungy is because they lacked a solid No. 2 wide receiver. Jacquez Green and Reidel Anthony were No. 3 receivers at best, and their inability to be consistent was a detriment to the Buccaneers offensive production.

There's currently a wealth of wide receivers available in the free agent market. Tampa Bay does not have a No. 1 or No. 2 draft pick for the next two years, but even if they did, rookie receivers rarely make a big impact in their first couple of seasons.

The Buccaneers were $9.4 million over the salary cap before Mar. 1, and they cut several veteran players in order to get themselves under the cap. While it's not clear exactly how much money the Bucs have to play with, it doesn't appear to be a lot.

Tampa Bay has about $1 million less to use in free agency now that they agreed to terms with R. Johnson. Bringing Johnson aboard was a good move, but it should've been made after Tampa Bay secured a No. 2 wide receiver via free agency. Of course, the Bucs could still have enough room under the cap to sign one, but then again, maybe they don't.

On Mar. 1, Bucs general manager Rich McKay indicated the team would pursue some free agent wide receivers, but he told the media and fans to not expect a signing anytime soon.

"I think we want to sign a couple of guys over time," said McKay. "I see it as a position truly that might not be completed until July. I think It will take some time and I think there is still a little bit of process to figure out based on what we have and than what is out there, and what is best for us to do. What we kind of said is, 'Let's take our time, let's go back through it.' I think Jon (Gruden) met with Keyshawn (Johnson) the other day and is trying to watch as much tape as he can on the guys we have and the guys we had and say, 'This is the way I like to do it.' So, I see that as a position where we sign at least one or two guys, and I don't see that as one we will sign in the next 10 days."

Here is a list of free agent wide receivers Tampa Bay currently has the ability to try and sign.

Flynn's Top Five Available Free Agent Wide Receivers:

Chris Carter

Background ((6-3, 208), Ohio State alum. 1987 fourth round draft pick out of Ohio State.

What Has He Done For Teams Lately? Carter is a future Hall of Famer. Carter caught 68 passes for 811 yards and six touchdowns last season. He has hauled in 1,093 passes for 13, 833 yards and 129 touchdowns during his career.

Does He Fit? Carter is an excellent receiver with great size and hands, but Tampa Bay doesn't need another possession guy. They already have one in K. Johnson. Carter's age and occasional sideline tantrums are also a turnoff. Carter will demand the most amount of money out of all of the free agent receivers, which make his chances of landing in Tampa slim.

Qadry Ismail

Background (6-0, 200). 1993 second round draft pick out of Syracuse University.

What Has He Done For Teams Lately? Ismail had a career-year in Baltimore last season, where he hauled in 72 passes for 1,030 yards and seven touchdowns. Ismail has caught 309 passes for 4,675 yards and 30 touchdowns in his nine-year career.

Does He Fit? During his three seasons in Baltimore, Ismail excelled in a offense that was average at best. Ismail has impressive speed and would make an excellent compliment to K. Johnson as a deep threat.

Germane Crowell

Background (6-3, 216). 1998 second round draft pick out of Virginia.

What Has He Done For Teams Lately? Crowell only played in five games last season due to injury, and he caught 22 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Crowell has, however, been a productive receiver with Detroit. He has caught 162 passes for 2,521 yards and 15 touchdowns during his career.

Does He Fit? Crowell is coming off a bad season, but then again, Detroit went 2-14 last year. He has both speed and size, which would make him the perfect No. 2 wide receiver in Gruden's offense. Crowell will, however, probably seek a big contract, which Tampa Bay can't afford to dish out.

Donald Hayes

Background (6-4, 218). 1998 fourth round draft selection out of Wisconsin.

What Has He Done For Teams Lately? Hayes struggled due to the 1-15 Panthers' woes last season. He still managed to catch 52 passes for 597 yards and two touchdowns with rookie QB Chris Weinke throwing to him. Hayes has caught 128 passes for 1,523 yards and five touchdowns over the last two seasons.

Does He Fit Hayes is a young and talented wide receiver that could fill Tampa Bay's No. 2 wide receiver slot nicely. Hayes isn't a speed guy or much of a deep threat, but he is a capable receiver with good hands. Hayes' size allows him to be physical off of the line and outwork cornerbacks and safeties for the football.

Michael Westbrook

Background (6-3, 221). 1995 first round draft selection out of Colorado.

What Has He Done For Teams Lately? Westbrook caught 57 passes for 664 yards and four touchdowns last season, but he also fought injuries throughout the entire season. He has been a very productive receiver with Washington. Westbrook has caught 277 passes for 4,280 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Does He Fit Westbrook is not really much of a deep threat and he has also been an occasional distraction with the Redskins in terms of conduct. He is, however, a quality receiver and could be a nice compliment to K. Johnson. Westbrook is reportedly interested in playing for Tampa Bay.

The Best of the Rest

Willie Jackson (6-1, 212). Good No. 3 receiver who benefited from WR Joe Horn in New Orleans.

Jerome Pathon (6-0, 182). Big play threat, but suffered injuries with the Colts.

Bill Schroeder (6-3, 205). Put up the numbers in Green Bay, but those are deceiving. Drops too many passes and was not on the same page with Brett Favre.

Sean Dawkins (6-4, 213). Has been a quiet, but productive receiver. May not have much left in the tank, though.

Things That Make You Go, Hmmm Last season, Tampa Bay's wide receivers caught a total of four touchdowns. K. Johnson caught a total of 106 passes while the rest of the Bucs wide receivers combined for just 85 receptions. Quarterback Brad Johnson completed 341 passes last season, but just 191 (56 percent) of them were to his wide receivers.

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Copyright 2001 Buccaneer Magazine/

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