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5 Buccaneers Who Came Back

Tim Wright could join a small fraternity of players who have had two different stints with the Buccaneers, a group that includes Warrick Dunn, Steve DeBerg and George Yarno.

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Return Engagement: 5 Bucs Who Came Back

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcomed third-year tight end Tim Wright back into the fold after he had spent one season in Foxborough. Tampa Bay traded Wright to New England last August in a package to get guard Logan Mankins; when the Patriots put Wright on waivers last week, the Buccaneers used their number-one spot on the waiver order list to snap him up.

Wright was only gone for 10 months, but that was long enough to earn a Super Bowl championship ring with the Patriots. In a way, he trekked the opposite path from the one followed by Dave Moore, the long-time Buccaneer fan favorite-turned-Buccaneer Radio Network color man. Moore played nearly a decade for the Bucs before leaving for Buffalo early in 2002. That bit of timing meant that Moore missed the culmination of the team's late-90's turnaround, victory in Super Bowl XXXVII at the end of the '02 campaign. Moore then returned to the team in 2004 and played his final three NFL seasons in Tampa.

You can read more about Moore in the below list: "Five Bucs Who Came Back." If Wright makes the 53-man roster this fall, he will join a relatively small group of players who had two different regular-season stints with the Buccaneers, separated by at least one season on at least one other team. All five made some sort of impact on the team during both of their runs as Buccaneers.

1. Warrick Dunn
The third-leading rusher and third-leading pass-catcher in franchise history, Dunn first came to the Buccaneers as a first-round draft pick in 1997. Picked 12th overall in the '97 draft, the former Florida State running back was thought by some to be too small to excel as a featured back in the NFL, but he proved both electrifying in the open field and surprisingly sturdy between the tackles.

Dunn teamed with fullback Mike Alstott to form the most famous backfield in franchise history, known as "Thunder & Lightning." Dunn made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and then again in 2000 when he posted 1,133 rushing yards, his high-water mark as a Buccaneer. He became an unrestricted free agent in the spring of 2002, and while new Head Coach Jon Gruden wanted to keep Dunn for his soon-to-be-rebuilt offense, the Atlanta Falcons were willing to pay him more to be their every-down back.

The Buccaneers adjusted nicely, signing former Arizona running back Michael Pittman among a large number of offensive imports, and put together their best season. Like Moore, Dunn left one year too early to join in raising the Lombardi Trophy. That said, the Falcons' decision to sign him proved to be a very good one, too. Dunn played six years in Atlanta and produced almost exactly 6,000 yards (5,981, to be exact), built on three consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns from 2004-06. He went back to the Pro Bowl in 2005 with a 1,416-yard season.

A free agent again in 2008 and 11 years into a career in a league that doesn't lend itself to lengthy stays by running backs, Dunn chose to come back to Tampa for his swan song. That proved to be only one season, but he was used extensively, leading the team with 186 carries and 786 rushing yards and also catching 47 passes. Alas, the Bucs lost their last four games to fall to 9-7 and miss out on what seemed like a sure playoff berth in early December. Dunn capped his own career nicely, finishing with 10,967 yards, which currently ranks 21st in league history.

2. Steve DeBerg
DeBerg played for six teams over 17 NFL seasons, which is why he is sometimes labelled a "journeyman quarterback." His journey's did indeed take him all over the map – from Miami to San Francisco – but he eventually racked up more than 34,000 passing yards. Not bad for a 10th-round pick (Dallas, 1977), who didn't even see the field as a rookie.

The only NFL stop DeBerg made twice during his travels was in Tampa. He first became a Buccaneer in 1984, when the Denver Broncos traded him to Tampa Bay for a fourth-round pick. A quarterback who was in San Francisco when Joe Montana was drafted and Denver when John Elway came aboard, DeBerg soon found that pattern repeated in Tampa. The Buccaneers drafted future Hall-of-Famer Steve Young out of the USFL in 1985 and used the first-overall pick on Vinny Testaverde in 1987. DeBerg was with the Buccaneers from 1984-87 and, with such roster moves, was frequently in and out of the starting lineup.

DeBerg started 13 games for the Buccaneers in 1984, 11 in 1985, two in 1986 and eight in 1987. In '84, he threw for 3,554 yards, completed 60.5% of his passes and tossed 19 touchdown passes in 13 starts for a team that finished 6-10.

The Buccaneers traded DeBerg to Kansas City in 1988 for two picks and safety Mark Robinson, who had a good run in Tampa. DeBerg, meanwhile, turned in the peak portion of his long career in Kansas City, including a 1990 campaign that marked the only time he started all 16 contests for his team. He had a 96.3 passer rating for the playoff-bound Chiefs that year, setting an NFL record with a 0.9% interception rate and putting up a 23-4 TD-INT ratio.

Shortly after taking over as the Buccaneers' new head coach in 1992, Sam Wyche signed DeBerg as a free agent, presumably as a hedge against Testaverde failing to develop into a reliable starter. DeBerg started two midseason games for Tampa Bay in Testaverde's place, then remained for the 1993 campaign after Testaverde left via free agency. The Bucs actually turned to second-year man Craig Erickson in '93, but not before DeBerg started the season opener, a 27-3 loss to his former team, the Chiefs, who coincidentally, had Montana making his Kansas City debut in the same game.

DeBerg's 64 games as a Buccaneer represent the largest chunk of his 206 NFL contests played overall. He started 37 of those games but had an 8-29 record as a starter. In 52 starts for the Chiefs, DeBerg posted a 31-20-1 record.

3. Dexter Jackson
Best known as the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII, Jackson was a fourth-round pick by the Buccaneers out of Florida State in 1999. He joined a loaded team and thus had to wait several years to become a starter, but he took over at free safety in 2001 and opened 31 of 32 games over the next two seasons.

Those were two strong seasons for Jackson, who had seven interceptions, 14 passes defensed, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in that span. In 2002, he started every game for a Buccaneer defense that finished first in the league rankings in both yards and points allowed – by a healthy margin – and held opposing quarterbacks to a collective passer rating of 48.4.

Jackson's shining moment, again, came in the last and biggest game of that 2002 season, the Super Bowl. He displayed perfect timing in snaring a pair of first-half interceptions off NFL MVP Rich Gannon, helping to swing the momentum in a game that saw Tampa Bay put up 34 unanswered points. Jackson's timing was quite good in another way, as well: He became a free agent after that Super Bowl and was able to get a good deal to sign with the Arizona Cardinals.

After one six-interception season in Phoenix, Jackson landed on injured reserve early in 2004 and was later released at midseason. The Buccaneers signed him back and he got into six games with one start. After the 2004 season, Tampa Bay re-signed Jackson one more time as an unrestricted free agent and he played in 11 games with 10 starts, snaring one interception and breaking up five passes. Jackson later went on two two-and-a-half more seasons as a starter in Cincinnati.

4. George Yarno
Yarno is included on this list because of the team that made up the middle of his Buccaneer career sandwich. After five seasons in Tampa Bay, Yarno left to play for Denver – not the Broncos but the Denver Gold of the new USFL.

Yarno went undrafted as a defensive lineman out of Washington State in 1979 but signed with the Buccaneers and made the team as a reserve offensive lineman. In 1980, he made it into the starting lineup, opening 10 games that year and five the next. Yarno's versatility made him attractive; he not only made starts at center, guard and tackle but also kicked an extra point in Detroit in 1983 when Head Coach John McKay lost his faith in K Dave Warnke.

The Buccaneers retained their rights to Yarno after he left for the rival USFL league, and when the USFL folded Yarno came back to the Buccaneers in 1985. He played three more seasons in Tampa, starting 36 more contests at left tackle and left guard. Yarno finished his playing career with single seasons in Atlanta and Houston and then launched a long professional coaching career that even brought him back to the Buccaneers for one season in 2008.

5. Dave Moore
Moore's NFL career began in Miami as a seventh-round draft pick out of Pitt in 1992, but he finished his rookie season in what would become his long-time professional home of Tampa. After bouncing between the practice squad and the active roster for much of the season in Miami, Moore signed with the Buccaneers and got into four late-season games.

In the seasons that followed, Moore often entered training camp on the proverbial roster bubble, only to secure a spot with a variety of contributions that even included long-snapping. That would eventually come in quite handy. Gradually, Moore became more and more entrenched in the Bucs' offense, starting one game in 1993, half of them in 1995 and '96 and all of them in 1998 and '99. He had a nose for the end zone, scoring 24 touchdowns on his 184 receptions as a Buccaneer. He also spent some time as a fullback, selflessly throwing his body into a lead-blocking role.

The Bills signed Moore away after the 2001 season and he spent the 2002-03 campaigns in upstate New York. In 2004, he returned to the Buccaneers and played three more seasons, even though he caught a total of five passes in that span. The reason: Moore's return was as a long-snapper, a job he had perfected over the years. Moore handled that role well enough to make it to his only Pro Bowl after the 2006 season, specifically as a long-snapper. That all-star game would be the last one of his career. Moore now joins play-by-play man Gene Deckerhoff in the Bucs' radio booth on Sundays.

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