WR Chris Daniels (16) hasn't had much one-on-one competition since the early days of last summer's training camp
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers believe in the NFL Europe experience – that we know. The Bucs were more than happy to meet the NFL's new requirement of a six-player allotment to the league this year, actually exceeding the minimum with eight allocations.
But what about the players themselves? Beyond the chance to see a little bit more of the world, is there any appeal to an NFLEL assignment for the NFL roster hopeful?
At least in the case of wide receiver Chris Daniels, the answer is an emphatic yes.
In just a few days, Daniels will head off to the Barcelona Dragons' training camp, where he is expected to earn a spot on the team and head overseas in a matter of weeks. On Monday, however, Daniels was at One Buccaneer Place, as he has been nearly every day since the NFL season ended, toiling with the weights with workout partner Blake Spence. As his remaining packing days slip away, the former Purdue star admits to an eagerness to return to the playing field.
"Oh, yeah, I'm very excited," said Daniels. "I'm just glad to get a chance to get back on the field, instead of the weight room."
While Spence is rehabilitating an injured knee, Daniels is using the daily workouts as a means to report to the NFLEL in peak condition. "It's all based on the fact that they told me there was a possibility of me going over there," he said. "The Bucs let me know awhile ago (that he was headed to Europe) and I started preparing then. Right now is basically like my summer and camp is just ahead."
However, Daniels has a grand total of one reception in a game situation since he was Drew Brees' favorite target in 1999. An early-camp shoulder injury pushed him to injured reserve for his entire rookie season in Tampa Bay and he never got a true opportunity to compete for the 53-man squad. He views the NFLEL season as a chance to begin that quest again.
"I'm trying to gain weight and put myself in a position where I could be more diverse," said Daniels, who was tellingly listed as a WR/TE on the Bucs' list of NFLEL allocations. "I could play either wide receiver or tight end, or even H-back, and also long snap. I'm just trying to open up a bunch of doors to find a way on the squad."
Daniels has, in fact, had quite some time to get used to the idea of playing in Europe, as the Buccaneers approached him with the idea last fall. Director of Football Administration John Idzik recently alluded to the 6-3, 219-pound passcatcher as the perfect candidate for some NFLEL action, a player who has had plenty of time to absorb the Bucs' systems but hasn't had a chance to show his stuff on the field.
Daniels was on board with the idea from the beginning, in part because Idzik and the Tampa Bay personnel department kept him involved in the process.
"Actually, the Bucs were very good about it," said Daniels. "They kept me informed the whole way. They told me as early as October that they were talking about sending me over there. It was a good deal for me, just knowing there was a possibility of going over there."
He even was allowed to state a preference among the six possible destinations, though he understood that neither he nor the Buccaneers had the final say in that matter. As it turns out, Daniels' wish was granted, as he will end up in a Barcelona uniform. He is of Cuban descent, had a high-school student exchange experience in Spain and can speak enough Spanish to help him adjust.
Daniels also had the experiences of some of his teammates to tap into last fall. He surveyed the likes of RB Aaron Stecker, DT Chartric Darby and WR Yo Murphy, all of whom used strong NFLEL seasons to springboard into roles with the Buccaneers. Darby even played in Barcelona and gave it good reviews.
"Everybody I talked to had positive things to say about it," said Daniels, hopefully.