QB Jason Garrett has played for the Cowboys and Giants and owns a 6-3 mark as a starter
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced the signing of tackle Todd Steussie at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, then held a press conference to introduce their newest player at 2:00 p.m.
Only, by 2:00 p.m., Steussie was no longer the Bucs' newest player.
That title was shared by quarterback Jason Garrett and cornerback Tom Knight, the latest Tampa Bay additions in an almost unbelievable free agency shopping spree. The news of Garrett and Knight's arrival was released just as the Bucs were about to introduce Steussie, the fourth starting-caliber offensive lineman added by the team.
Amazingly, in the 13 days of the 2004 free agency period, the Buccaneers have signed or re-signed 13 players. Under the direction of General Manager Bruce Allen and Head Coach Jon Gruden, the team has lived up to its pre-free agency vow to be aggressive, even in spite of an unfavorable salary cap situation as recently as February.
Garrett helps the Bucs at a position of particular need. Before his signing, the team had just two quarterbacks under roster – starter Brad Johnson and second-year man Chris Simms. Tampa Bay has carried as many as five quarterbacks on its training camp roster since Gruden's arrival in 2002.
Though he joined the league as an undrafted free agent with New Orleans in 1989, Garrett is still in the game 15 years later thanks to his consistency as a reserve and spot starter. He has played in 40 games with nine starts and has posted an excellent career passer rating of 83.2. As a starter, he owns a 6-3 record, including a 3-2 mark in his most extensive playing time, with the Dallas Cowboys 1998.
Overall, Garrett has completed 165 of 294 passes for 2,042 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. Last season, with the New York Giants, he was on the active roster for the entire season but did not get into a game.
Officially a 12th-year veteran, Garrett spent his rookie season on the Saints' practice squad, then coached at Princeton, his alma mater, in 1990. He rode out the 1991 between the San Antonio Riders of the World League – like Johnson, he played in that league before it was reborn as NFL Europe – and the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. He got a shot with Dallas in the 1992 and 1993 training camps and stuck the second year, eventually seeing action in five games with one start.
Garrett again made one start for the Cowboys in 1994 and he made the most out of it, leading Dallas to a 42-31 win over Green Bay with 15-of-26 passing for 311 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He played only sparingly over the next three seasons before getting an extended look during the aforementioned 1998 campaign. With a 57.6% completion rate and a 5-3 touchdown-interception ratio, Garrett posted a passer rating of 84.5 that season. After one more year and two more starts in Dallas, he signed with the Giants as an unrestricted free agent in 2000. In his four seasons in New York, Garrett played in 17 games, mostly as a holder for placekicks in 2001.
Garrett played only two seasons at Princeton but finished second on the school's career passing yardage list. As a senior, he was named the Ivy League Player of the Year. A native of Chagrin, Ohio, he is the younger brother of John Garrett, a former scout for the Buccaneers (1992-94).
Knight, like Steussie a former first-round draft pick, has played in 73 NFL games with 54 starts, recording 263 tackles, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, two sacks and 47 passes defensed. He spent his first five seasons in Arizona (1997-2001) before joining the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent in December of 2002. Knight also attended training camp with the New England Patriots prior to the 2002 season.
Last year with the Ravens, Knight played in 10 games with one start and totaled 18 tackles, 0.5 sacks, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery. He also played in the Ravens' Wild Card playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.
Knight was the ninth overall pick of the 1997 draft by the Cardinals. He stepped right into a starting role as a rookie, opening 14 games at right cornerback and contributing 51 tackles and 13 passes defensed.
Shoulder, knee and hamstring injuries limited Knight to eight games and five starts in 1998, but he rebounded to play in every game and make 26 starts over the following two campaigns. Knight's top statistical season came in 1999, when he made 77 tackles, picked off two passes and defensed 13 others. Knight also started all eight games in which he played in 2001, his last year in Arizona, recording 32 tackles and a pick. He signed with the Ravens in December of 2002 but did not get into any of Baltimore's final four games.
A native of Marlton, New Jersey, Knight played his college ball at Iowa. He intercepted 10 passes in his 42-game collegiate career, returning three for touchdowns.
Monday marked the second time in seven days that the Bucs have signed three free agents on the same day. Last Tuesday, running back Charlie Garner headed a trio that also included linebacker Keith Burns and guard Matt O'Dwyer.
Besides those mentioned above, the other free agents to come aboard in Tampa during the first two weeks of the open market are offensive linemen Derrick Deese and Matt Stinchcomb, punter Josh Bidwell, linebacker Jeff Gooch, tight end Dave Moore and fullback Greg Comella. Tampa Bay has also re-signed tight end Rickey Dudley, one of its own unrestricted free agents.