Flynn's Focus

July 19 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently shot down a rumor/report that suggested the Bucs were trying to trade fourth-year quarterback Shaun King to the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for offensive lineman Zach Wiegart. While the Bucs likely won't deal him this year, this installment of Flynn's Focus explains why the Bucs would be wise to keep King around in 2002.

Flynn's Focus appears weekly on PewterReport.com
Copyright 2002 Pewter Report/PewterReport.com
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Why trade Shaun King? That's what I asked myself last Friday when ESPN.com reported the Tampa Bay was discussing trading King to Jacksonville for offensive lineman Zach Wiegart. ESPN.com stressed the report was unsubstantiated, and the Buccaneers quickly shrugged off the report as an Internet rumor.

Sure, King has fallen to No. 3 on the depth chart behind quarterbacks Brad Johnson and Rob Johnson, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's out of picture in terms of competing at the quarterback position.

The Buccaneers should know all too well how quickly a third-string quarterback could become a team's starter. In 1999, Bucs starting QB Trent Dilfer suffered a broken collarbone, which sidelined him for the season. Tampa Bay backup QB Eric Zeier already was sidelined with a rib injury, which is why King, who was a rookie and the team's third-string quarterback, climbed two spots up the Bucs' totem pole and became the starter.

Everyone knows the rest of the story. King led the Bucs to the NFC Championship Game in 99' and to the playoffs in 2000. But the Bucs weren't happy with King's film study habits and felt Brad Johnson was too good to pass up in free agency. So, the Bucs signed Brad Johnson during the 2001 offseason. And in March, the Bucs added another quarterback in Rob Johnson.

The Bucs have one of the best, if not the best quarterback situation in the National Football League. Why would they voluntarily change that?

King has guided the Bucs to 14 wins in the 25 games he's appeared in. He has starting experience in both the regular season and the playoffs.

King has, however, been inconsistent, which is evidenced by his 56.7 percent career completion percentage. And King certainly didn't do anything during offseason workouts to put himself in front of Johnson and Johnson.

If the Bucs were going to trade King, they should've done it in April, which would have allowed the team to recoup a draft pick from the Bucs-Raiders trade, which sent Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay in exchange for four draft picks.

Let's not forget what King is best known for – the intangibles. King hasn't performed great in practices, but that's because practices don't present a lot of opportunities to make some of the plays King has made in games. King also is learning his fourth offensive system in four years, which is why he's never been able to enter a season with an offensive system under his belt.

Do the Bucs trust Brad Johnson, who was sacked 44 times last season, and Rob Johnson, who had a injury-plagued career in Buffalo, to stay healthy for the entire 2002 season? Sure, both quarterbacks could stay healthy, but then again, maybe they won't.

Both King and Rob Johnson are in contract years. The Bucs' plan was to watch both players develop and function in Gruden's offense for a year and anoint one of them the future quarterback after the 2002 season concluded.

Stick to the plan, Tampa Bay. Rob Johnson was impressive during the team's mini-camps, but he has a reputation for mentally breaking down during games. The Bucs should allow all three quarterbacks to battle during training camp and preseason. If he still is No. 3 on the depth chart when the regular season begins on September 8, King will be just two hits away from being called to the throne, again.


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Copyright 2002 Pewter Report/PewterReport.com

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