The wide receiving corps got Vincent Jackson. The running back room welcomed Doug Martin. And now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' tight ends have a potentially explosive new player in their midst, too. All of which is great news for Josh Freeman.
On Monday, the Buccaneers announced that they have signed 10th-year tight end Dallas Clark, one of the most productive players at his position in the past decade, to a one-year deal. In 2009, Clark became just the second tight end in NFL history to reach triple digits in receptions in a single season. The Buccaneers also announced that they have traded tight end Kellen Winslow to the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional pick in the 2013 draft.
The addition of Clark and the expected development of 2011 fourth-round pick Luke Stocker has the Bucs very optimistic about a position that has become increasingly important in the NFL in recent years. Last season, six of the top 15 pass-catchers in the league were tight ends.
"Dallas Clark is a consummate pro and proven playmaker," said Buccaneers General Manager Mark Dominik. "He will be another asset, on and off the field, for our team. In addition to Luke Stocker's continued improvement in his ability as an every-down tight end, we feel we have talent and depth at the tight end position."
Clark has recorded 427 catches since he entered the league as the Indianapolis Colts' first-round draft choice (24th overall) in 2003, the sixth-most among NFL tight ends in that span. From 2007-09, Clark averaged 78 receptions for 857 yards and nine touchdowns per season. To put that in perspective, the Buccaneers' all-time single season records in those categories are 77, 884 and eight.
Clark spent his first nine seasons in Indianapolis, turning those 427 catches into 4,887 yards and 46 touchdowns. He also helped the Colts make it to the postseason every year from 2003-10, contributing heavily in the playoffs during that time. In 12 playoff games with Indianapolis, Clark caught 64 passes for 847 yards and four touchdowns. His averages of 5.3 catches per game and 13.2 yards per reception in the postseason are actually higher than his already outstanding marks of 3.7 and 11.4 in the regular season.
Clark's last full season was his most prolific as an NFL player, as he helped the Colts to their second Super Bowl appearances in four years by catching 100 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns. That reception total is the second-highest single-season mark in NFL history behind the 102 that Tony Gonzalez posted for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2004. In the Colts' three playoff games that season, Clark added 18 more catches for 180 yards and one score.
Clark, who started 111 of his 114 games in Indianapolis, holds the Colts' career tight end marks in receptions and touchdowns, while ranking second in yards. In 2009, Clark joined rare company, when he became just the third tight end in NFL history (also Gonzalez and Todd Christensen) to record 90-plus receptions, 1,000-plus yards and 10-plus touchdowns in a single season, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
Winslow, an eight-year veteran, spent the last three seasons with Tampa Bay, starting in 40 of the 48 games he played. He recorded 218 receptions for 2,377 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Buccaneers. His best season with the team came in 2009, when he set a single-season franchise mark for tight ends in receptions (77) and receiving yards (884) to go with five touchdowns.