WR Joey Galloway has 49 career touchdowns, scored from an average of 36.2 yards out
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the tough decision to deactivate Keyshawn Johnson last November, effectively ending his career in Tampa, the team was ready to deal with the possible repercussions.
Who could have guessed on that tense Tuesday morning that the situation would end so positively for the Buccaneers?
On Friday, in a deal long rumored, the Bucs traded Johnson to the Dallas Cowboys for wide receiver Joey Galloway, one of the NFL's most noted speed merchants. Though the well-reported ups and downs of the past few weeks blunt the surprise factor of the deal, it does not lessen the team's elation over getting it done.
"This is an exciting day for us," said Buccaneers General Manager Bruce Allen. "We believe we've obtained one of the rare talents in the NFL, a person who demonstrated a scoring ability, a play-making ability with two different teams. We think he's going to be a great complement to our offense as well as the other ways we devise to utilize his talents during this season."
Galloway instantly becomes the Bucs' fastest player, and he would be in the running for that distinction league-wide. Last year, he led the NFL in yards per catch, turning his 34 catches into 672 yards, an average of 19.8 yards per catch. No other qualifying receiver came within two yards of Galloway's average; Johnson, the man Galloway ostensibly replaces, had 11 more catches but 72 fewer yards.
While Johnson is an undeniable NFL talent, considered particularly strong at using his big frame to make tough catches over the middle, the Bucs are much deeper in that prototype than in the speed receiver. After the 6-4, 212-pound Johnson was deactivated last year, 6-3, 227-pound Charles Lee took his place and recorded 33 receptions for 432 yards and two touchdowns, effectively replacing Johnson's production. Other Buc receivers with good size and hands include Joe Jurevicius (6-5, 230), Keenan McCardell (6-1, 191) and the newly signed Sylvester Morris (6-3, 212) and Danny Farmer (6-3, 215). While none of those players can claim career accomplishments equal to Johnson's, they should help the team handle his departure.
Galloway, on the other hand, gives the Bucs a shot of speed they had desperately craved, particularly at the receiver position. Head Coach Jon Gruden has improved the Bucs' offense from a 26th in 2001 to 10th last year with a much more diverse approach than the team had featured in the past. With Galloway in the mix, Gruden's options only increase.
"Joey Galloway is one of the fastest players in the NFL and I know what Jon Gruden can do with speed," said Allen. "(Gruden) really gets excited (about that). Ever since I've known Jon, he's wanted speed."
Galloway's speed is reflected in his career average of 15.7 yards per catch and his average of 36.2 yards per touchdown on 49 scoring receptions. He also owns 18 career 100-yard games. In approximately eight NFL seasons (119 games and 114 starts), Galloway has caught 434 passes for 6,798 yards. He is also an accomplished punt return, though he hasn't filled that role full-time since 1998; his career average in that role is 10.3 yards per runback, and he has four return touchdowns.
The deal for Galloway took about a month to complete because it involved more than just a player-for-player swap. Both receivers had to agree on new contract structures with their new teams before the deal could be possible; as is team policy, the Buccaneers did not disclose the terms of Galloway's deal or discuss the negotiations that led to it.
"When I heard word that I was probably leaving Dallas, Tampa was at the top of my list of teams I would love to play for," said Galloway. "My agent and Mr. Allen took care of it, got it done, and now I'm a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. I'm extremely excited to get started down there."
A Galloway-Johnson deal is intriguing given that each player originally came to his previous team in other, very similar trades. The Cowboys sent a pair of first-round draft picks (2000 and 2001) to the Seattle Seahawks for Galloway four years ago. The following spring, the Bucs exchanged their two 2001 first-round picks with the Jets for Johnson.
Galloway's Dallas career got off to a rough start when he tore the ACL in his left knee in the 2000 opener and missed the remainder of the season, but he has played in all but one game since and given the Cowboys 147 receptions for 2279 yards and 11 touchdowns. His top season in Dallas was 2002, when he caugth 61 passes for 908 yards and six touchdowns.
In five seasons with Seattle after being selected in the first round (eighth pick overall), Galloway was consistently the Seahawks' top receiving threat, save for a 1999 season in which he played only eight games. In the four seasons prior to that, he averaged 65 receptions for 1031 yards and nine touchdowns. His 1997 and 1998 seasons were almost identically outstanding: 72-1,049-12 in '97 and 65-1,047-10 in '98.
Joey Galloway's Career Receiving Statistics