Bucs Agree To Terms With QB Matthews

March 14 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Washington free-agent quarterback Shane Matthews on Friday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Matthews adds veteran depth to the quarterback position behind Brad Johnson. Ironically, Washington signed Tampa Bay free-agent QB Rob Johnson two weeks ago, which essentially means the two teams swapped backup quarterbacks.

It was nearly one year ago today that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Buffalo free-agent quarterback Rob Johnson to a one-year contract. But when Johnson departed Tampa Bay for Washington via free agency two weeks ago, the Bucs were left searching for another backup quarterback.

On Friday, the Bucs' search produced some results when the team agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Washington free-agent QB Shane Matthews. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"I'm extremely excited to play for Coach Gruden," said Matthews. "I think he's the best coach out there. I'm getting to the point in my career where I want to play for a winning team, a winning organization and play for a great coach. It's something I've dreamed about doing and I'm fortunate that everything fell into place."

The Bucs won't even hold its first mini-camp until early May, but the team was pressed to find at least one backup quarterback before the weekend started since Bucs head coach Jon Gruden had scheduled the start of his annual three-day quarterback orientation for Monday. Before the team landed the 6-foot-3, 196-pound signal-caller, it had started to look like Brad Johnson and QB Greg Zolman might be the only two quarterbacks in attendance. But now, all three quarterbacks will attend Gruden's orientation at One Buccaneer Place together.

In addition to Matthews, Tampa Bay brought veteran quarterbacks Jim Miller, Bobby Hoying and Charlie Batch in for visits earlier this week. Batch re-signed with Pittsburgh on Thursday, and although the Pewter Pirates landed Matthews, the Bucs are still believed to interested in signing Hoying or Miller. The team is also still interested in re-signing King, who has not received much attention on the free-agent market.

Matthews, 32, started seven of the eight games he played in as a Redskin. He threw for 1,251 yards and tossed a career-high 11 touchdown passes and six interceptions in 2002.

"It is always good to add a veteran quarterback who has played and won in the league," said Bucs general manager Rich McKay. "Shane is a quality kid and a top competitor."

Before he landed in Washington last season, Matthews spent seven seasons with the Chicago Bears (1993-96, 1999-01) and two seasons with the Carolina Panthers (1997-98).

While he will play for his fourth team in 10 seasons, Matthews, a former Florida Gator, said Tampa Bay is the organization he's always wanted to be part of.

"Well, obviously, it's a place I've wanted to play my entire career, and I'm looking forward to it," said Matthews. "I'm extremely excited to play for Coach Gruden. I think he's the best coach out there. It's an outstanding organization, outstanding team and I'm looking forward to getting started."

Matthews, who threw just 17 passes in his first six seasons in the NFL, has started 22 of the 28 games he has played in throughout his 10-year career. He's completed 58.3 percent of his pass attempts and he's thrown for 4,712 yards, 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

"He is an experienced player who has performed well in a lot of different systems," said Gruden. "We are excited to have Shane and we are eager to get started."


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