Gruden: Taking a Flyer on Fiedler?

As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished up their June minicamp, head coach Jon Gruden tackled several subjects. One topic which could be of particular interest to Seahawks fans is Gruden's potential interest in Jay Fiedler, quite possibly the most intriguing free agent backup quarterback left on the market. Could a Fiedler signing in Tampa Bay spell the end of Seattle's veteran backup search?

On mini-camp:

“We had a good spirited practice and we looked like a little bit better football team also.”

On the team possibly having its last practice at One Buc Place:

“I didn’t hear any tears shed when we said goodbye to the old stadium and got into the new one, you know what I mean? This place has served its purpose. It helped us win a championship. What else can I say? We’re very excited to move into the new building, very appreciative of our owners for putting the amount of effort, money and time, and all the vision that they have, [into it]. This facility, they tell me, is going to be state-of-the-art. We’re really looking forward to it; I think these players are also.”

On if he wants to say anything to the place as the team moves on:

“No, I’m ready to move on. Don’t live in the rear-view mirror. We try to live in the future, and the immediate future at that. With a new facility on the horizon, we’re excited.”

On Jay Fiedler:

“We have Jay Fiedler here. I coached him in Philadelphia when he was a younger player. Bill Muir was also in Philadelphia for the early stages of his career. We’re just looking into his situation. We said we were going to look into the quarterback position. We’re going to continue to do that, at least as long as I’m here.”

On how the Bucs’ cap situation impacts the possible search for another quarterback:

“I don’t know exactly. Bruce Allen has all the answers to the salary cap. I do know we’ve made great strides in the salary cap in the last few years. We haven’t been able to be as aggressive in free agency the last couple of seasons as we would like. But if there’s a way, we’ll find a way and hopefully something works itself out. If it doesn’t, we like what Bruce Gradkowski did today. Tim Rattay is a very solid player, and if you watched practice today our starting quarterback is pretty damn good.”

Could Fiedler get ready to play quickly?

“Well, we’re looking into his situation. I really haven’t had a chance to formally sit down and talk with him, other than just for a few minutes here on the practice field. I will say he’s had some really good moments: taking the Dolphins to the playoffs; succeeding Dan Marino; he’s won a lot of games. If you look at his won-lost record in Miami, it was pretty solid. He’s a smart, quick study and he’s a good guy and right now he’s looking for a team to help out. We’re looking into his situation and everything else is just speculation at this time.”

Was he happy with the team overall as mini-camp ended?

“Yeah, I am. I think some of our young players have really stepped up. Dewayne White [had] a great offseason here. Dewayne White has been outstanding here. The quarterback, [Chris] Simms, has had a great three months. Young players, second-year guys, Alex Smith, ‘Cadillac’ Williams have looked good. I thought Barrett Ruud showed a lot of improvement. Will Allen has solidified himself in my opinion as a guy who we think is a good player. The young guys are getting better. Our rookie class has been exposed to a lot of system, a lot of football. And we’ve still got some great players here who we’re really excited about.”

On how the rookies did:

“I thought they did well. I thought [Jeremy] Trueblood had an especially good last month of this offseason program. He doesn’t say anything. He’s an unflappable guy. He’s out there blocking some great rushers every day. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and he doesn’t make any excuses either. He is a big guy and he’s getting better. I think [Davin] Joseph is a work in progress; he’s going to be a fine football player. Going against Hovan and McFarland every day is no small task. He’s had his eyes opened; at the same time he’s opened mine and we’re happy he’s here.”

Did Maurice Stovall lose ground by missing practices with an injury?

“Well obviously when you don’t practice you don’t help yourself. Chris Colmer’s another [draft] pick who didn’t take part in our offseason program as he rehabs an injury. Now, Maurice has a much more minor injury – it’s a foot ailment that has kept him out for a few days. But for him to be a player here he’s going to have to practice and earn the right. I think he understands that.”

On QB Bruce Gradkowski:

“He’s a good player. He’s fast, he can run. He’s got a quick, accurate arm and he’s mentally tough. He can take the wrath from the players, from the coaches. I think he might even be able to take the wrath from you [the media], too. I really am impressed with the nature in which he’s learned this offense. It’s a very verbal system, a lot to say and a lot to see and a lot to do. But in a short time I’ve seen huge leaps and gains in his performance. I think the players like him. He’s a charismatic fellow who we look forward to leading our football team at some point.

More on moving to the new facility:

“We’re just moving across the street, you know. It’s not going to be like we’re moving our franchise to another city. Like I said, I’ve got a lot of great memories [about One Buc Place]. I’ve got a lot of great memories about my house I grew up in as a kid, too. Again, we’re going to look forward to the coming months, and having a new facility is really something to get excited about. It sure is.”


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