SR's Reaction To The Addition Of WR McCardell

June 7 - Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds offers some insight and analysis into why the Bucs pursued WR Keenan McCardell, and what his addition to the team means for Tampa Bay's other receivers.


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Acquiring former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell automatically gives the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their most talented receiving corps in team history. But I'm still trying to figure out if signing a receiver like McCardell was actually a necessity or just a luxury. I do know this, usually teams get better by adding talented players -- not worse -- so this has to be viewed as a huge positive for the Bucs.

Although he is slated to start at the "Z" receiver position, or flanker, McCardell gives the Bucs valuable insurance in case an injury sidelines top receiver Keyshawn Johnson for an extended period of time. With Johnson and McCardell, and a host of other younger, talented wideouts, the Bucs passing game should finally rank in the top half of the league.

But if the Bucs lost Johnson for the year in training camp and didn't sign McCardell, then Joe Jurevicius, rookie Marquise Walker and perhaps unproven Frank Murphy would be the team's top three receivers. Even though Johnson has proven to be durable, that scenario scared the Bucs, who feel they can contend for a Super Bowl this year given their relocation to the weak NFC South division.

McCardell, who said that he likes the idea of staying in Florida, is a good fit in Jon Gruden's version of the West Coast offense, which features crossing routes similar to what he ran in Jacksonville. Outward appearances suggest that the Bucs will be starting two possession receivers in McCardell and Johnson -- players who are not known for their speed. But both receivers have clutch hands, great football intellect, and veteran savvy and experience. Aftering investing high draft picks, time and money into fast underachievers like Reidel Anthony and Jacquez Green, the Bucs believe speed is overrated.

The Bucs might not lead the league in 80-yard plays this season, but Johnson and McCardell are fast enough to register their share of receptions over 30 yards, and the Bucs have a lot of different weapons to choose from on offense. Gruden will make use of his fifth and even sixth wide receiver, if that player dresses on game day, if the right situation calls for that player's specific talents.

The only downside about the addition of McCardell is that puts pressure on Tampa Bay's younger wide receivers and means that out of a promising group that includes Murphy, Milton Wynn and seventh-round draft pick Aaron Lockett, perhaps only one of these players will make the Bucs' 53-man roster. McCardell's presence means making the team won't be easy for the likes of E.G. Green, Darryl Daniel, Karl Williams or Keith Poole, either.

Adding McCardell is an impressive feat for Gruden and Co., who have done a masterful job of recruiting free agents this offseason. Out of all of the free agents that the team pursued, only two -- RB Warrick Dunn and PR David Allen -- got away, and they no longer matter. Compare that with the additions of QB Ron Johnson, RB Michael Pittman, TEs Marco Battaglia and Ken Dilger, WRs McCardell, Jurevicius and Poole, OG Kerry Jenkins and OT Roman Oben, and you could picture Bobby Bowden will start calling Gruden to have him recruit for Florida State, too.

Kansas City, who was also in the running for McCardell, has to be absolutely stunned by his decision to choose the Bucs over the Chiefs. Coach Dick Vermeil told the Kansas City Star on Thursday that the Chiefs have offered a contract to Keenan McCardell and that Kansas City was the leading contender to retain the free-agent wide receiver's services.

"We're still No. 1 on his list," Vermeil told the Star. "There has been a proposal presented. Now we have to wait and see what he decides."

Tampa Bay it is.


Here's PewterReportSR's pre-camp prediction as to which Bucs WRs will make the 53-man roster:

Keyshawn Johnson
Keenan McCardell
Joe Jurevicius
Marquise Walker
Frank Murphy
E.G. Green


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