"I'm happy to be here," said McCardell. "I am actually super-excited to be here. The possibility of being with this team that works hard. I found out they worked hard by watching the practice and that was something I expected and when I was there, at practice, it just made me more excited to be here. It kind of sealed the deal."
McCardell, 32, became a heavily sought-after free agent after the Jacksonville Jaguars released him on June 3 in a salary cap maneuver. The Kansas City Chiefs made a big push for him, but McCardell said Bucs head coach Jon Gruden has earned a reputation for being both a player's coach and offensive guru, which gave him at least two good reasons to choose Tampa Bay over Kansas City.
"I was on my trip to Kansas City and I was on the plane with Warren Moon and he asked me what my decisions were as far as where I wanted to go," said McCardell. "I told him my next visit was Tampa and (Moon) said, '(Gruden) can really excite you. His offensive mind is a genius, so you might want to take a look at that.' I have a lot of respect for Warren Moon because he's a great quarterback and he has been in some great offenses and when he said that, I wanted to get here and see what Warren was talking about. When I got here, it was just what I expected."
Well, it wasn't just Gruden that enticed McCardell. Some of the Bucs' players helped, too. Some of Tampa Bay's prestigious players wined and dined McCardell last Wednesday night when he was in for his visit with the Bucs.
"They (Bucs players) sent some great vibes," said McCardell. "I had a chance to meet with a lot of guys. I went to dinner with a bunch of guys and we had a great dinner. Brad (Johnson) was a key seller and he said he wanted someone in who could help him out and someone that could help Keyshawn (Johnson) out."
On Thursday, the Buccaneers held a voluntary workout at Raymond James Stadium, which was the first Bucs practice inside Ray-Jay since before the stadium opened its doors to the public in 1998. The practice featured game-like elements, including a live Bucsvision, which consists of Tampa Bay's two score and replay boards located in each end zone, blaring music and crowd noise and an exploding pirate ship. These were just some of the features that convinced McCardell he'd enjoy life as a Buc.
"That was actually my second time going into the stadium (Raymond James) and it was kind of nice to see the scoreboard lit up and hearing the music," said McCardell. "It sends Goosebumps down your entire body when the scoreboard is on and the music is going and you hear the crowd noise. They had crowd noise going for guys in two-minute drills. It shows you what that stadium is going to be like.
"It helps a team out when you practice inside a stadium. People don't realize that, but it helps a lot."
McCardell is excited about Tampa Bay's offense, especially the fact that he will be lining up as the team's No. 2 receiver opposite WR Keyshawn Johnson. McCardell put up some impressive numbers as No. 2 receiver during his six-year tenure in Jacksonville. In each of his last two seasons with the Jaguars, McCardell hauled in over 90 receptions and had over 1,000 yards receiving while playing opposite WR Jimmy Smith.
"I played with a great one (receiver) in Jacksonville and he (Keyshawn Johnson) is up there in that class," said McCardell. "He (Johnson) is in that same level. What I like about Keyshawn is, he comes to work everyday. People can say what they want to say. I just love his work ethic and attitude about the game. He loves the game. That's the same with Jimmy (Smith). He loves the game and I love the game. So that makes it easier to go out and compete against the cornerbacks that you play against. It's like, 'Hey, this guy across from me on the other side of the ball will do his best to get open. He's going to do whatever it takes for the team to win."
Speaking of numbers, McCardell sported jersey No. 87 in Jacksonville, but that number is currently held by WR Frank Murphy. In fact, jersey numbers 80-89 are currently taken. So, what jersey number will McCardell wear and what might he consider doing in order to acquire No. 87 from Murphy?
"It's an important number," said McCardell. "But I'm going to catch the ball regardless of what number I'm wearing. I might try to tickle with Frank (Murphy) a little bit -- him being a Jacksonville guy. I might have to tickle his pockets a little bit. But we'll see. I'm going to catch the football regardless."
So, is No. 87 actually for sale? Murphy will evidently consider handing over No. 87 to McCardell, but he stressed that the most important numbers both players will talk about this season will be the ones they produce on the field.
"Keenan and I are good friends from Jacksonville," said Murphy. "So, we'll talk numbers. It doesn't matter what number Keenan wears. He'll be catching touchdowns no matter what number he wears. And, it doesn't matter what number I wear because I'll be catching touchdowns and hopefully returning kickoffs for touchdowns, too."
McCardell will participate in Tampa Bay's third and final mini-camp on Thursday, June 13 through Saturday, June 15 at One Buc Place. The practices will be McCardell's first as a Buc, which means he's a bit behind in terms of learning the offense. But McCardell feels his NFL experience and hard work ethic will help him catch up.
"Well, I just have to put in my time," said McCardell. "I feel like I've been in this league long enough to realize what's going on. I'm going to use training camp to get a good feel for this offense. If I go over all the verbiage and all the calls before training camp and get all those down, when I get to training camp, I should be working to get the feel for this offense. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I want to work and I'm eager to get back into the game."
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