Former Lions WR Scotty Anderson averaged 19.1 yards per catch in 2003
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2004 season came to a close, All-Pro LB Derrick Brooks urged his teammates to get away from the game and recharge during the month of January. For team management, however, this month is a very busy one, dominated by such large projects as reviewing the past season, evaluating the team's roster, preparing to coach at the Senior Bowl and beginning work on soon-to-be free agents.
There is also no time to be lost in restocking the roster for the 2005 offseason and next summer's training camp. On Friday, the Buccaneers announced the signings of 14 free agents, including former Detroit WR Scotty Anderson and the first new competitor for the Bucs' 05 placekicking job, K Todd France.
Though some of the 14 names below will be unfamiliar to Buccaneer fans, these are not insignificant signings. This is a common time for teams to begin constructing their training camp rosters for the next season; in fact, free agent transactions at this time of the year, between the end of the season and the beginning of the new league year in March, are called "reserve/future" signings.
Last year, the Buccaneers signed 20 free agents between the end of the 2003 season and the beginning of free agency in March, including four players from their '03 practice squad. From that group, five players made it onto Tampa Bay's active roster for all or part of the 2004 regular season: T Anthony Davis, RB Earnest Graham, DT Damian Gregory, WR Marcus Knight and WR Frank Murphy.
Obviously, these players couldn't be on any team's 53-man roster at the end of the 2004 season or they would not be available until March. Players who finished the season on a practice squad are available for reserve/future signings, however, as they become free agents again as soon as the season ends.
Here is the full group of free agent signings announced on Friday, listed with the players' positions and colleges:
- CB Blue Adams, Cincinnati * WR Scotty Anderson, Grambling * DT Delbert Cowsette, Maryland * WR Chris Davis, Southern * K Todd France, Toledo * T Jason Jimenez, Southern Mississippi * WR Derrick Lewis, San Diego State * WR Adrian Madise, TCU * WR Terrance Metcalf, South Carolina State * S Kalvin Pearson, Grambling * DT Bryan Save, Colorado State * LS Brian Sawyer, Florida State * P Brian Simnjanovski, San Diego State * T/G Mitch White, Oregon State
Notably, five of those fourteen players are receivers, a position which figures to see some turnover during the offseason due to impending free agency. Anderson is the most experienced of those five, having played three seasons and 34 games with the Detroit Lions, but three of the others – Lewis, Madise and Metcalf – have been with the Buccaneers before. Metcalf spent a weekend with the team last spring on an extended tryout during a post-draft rookie camp, and Lewis and Madise each made brief appearances on the regular-season roster this past fall.
In fact, half of the 14 players on Friday's list have some prior connection to the Buccaneers. Adams was on the practice squad for a portion of the 2003 season, Cowsette was with the Bucs four months of last year's offseason, Pearson went to camp with Tampa Bay last year and spent two weeks on the practice squad and White, as a member of the practice squad, was with the team in San Diego when it won Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002. Cowsette and Pearson are reserve/future signings with the Bucs for the second consecutive year.
Adams, a 5-9, 182-pound cornerback, first came into the league as a seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 2003. He made the Lions' active roster out of preseason as a rookie, but was waived after one week and signed by the Buccaneers to the practice squad. Adams stayed with Bucs for a month before Jacksonville plucked him off the practice squad to put on their active roster, after which he appeared in eight games for the Jaguars. He played primarily on special teams for the Jags, recording three tackles. Jacksonville released Adams at the end of last year's camp and he was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Bears, but released again four days later. At Cincinnati, the Miami native intercepted 12 passes in four seasons, returning two of them for touchdowns.
Anderson was a proven deep threat over three seasons in Detroit, averaging 15.9 yards per catch and accounting for the Lions' three longest plays from scrimmage in 2003. The first of two fifth-round picks by Detroit in the 2001 draft, Anderson combines good size (6-2, 200) with an explosive burst, allowing him to average 19.1 yards per catch on 17 grabs in 2003. His career totals include 54 receptions for 858 yards and four touchdowns, including a career-best 25 catches in 2002. He started four games each in '01 and '02 but missed the second half of 2003 with an ankle injury. Anderson is Grambling's all-time leading receiver, with career marks of 195 catches for 3,334 yards and 35 touchdowns. He was waived by Detroit in late August in 2004 and claimed off waivers by Arizona, but then cut by the Cardinals a day later. A Jonesboro, Louisiana native, Anderson has two brothers who also played in the league: Anthony, a safety with San Diego, and Stevie, a receiver with Arizona and the N.Y. Jets.
Like Anderson, Cowsette originally saw a good bit of action with his original drafting team. Selected by Washington in the seventh round in 2000, he spent his rookie season on the Redskins' practice squad, then played all 32 games over the next two seasons, subbing at defensive tackle and playing on special teams. He accounted for 28 tackles and two sacks over the 2001-02 campaigns, including one sack of St. Louis Rams QB Kurt Warner. Cowsette was waived at the end of the 2003 preseason and did not play in the NFL that season, but signed with the Buccaneers last January. Though the Bucs released the 6-1, 296 pound tackle in April, he went to training camp with the New York Giants. In four seasons at Maryland, the Cleveland native recorded 280 tackles and 13 sacks.
Davis spent his entire rookie season on the Giants' practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent last April. The 6-2, 200-pound wideout had a breakout season at Southern as a senior in 2003, catching 56 passes for 897 yards and eight touchdowns. The conference's leading receiver in '03, he had hauled in a total of just seven passes during his sophomore and junior seasons combined. Davis hails from New Orleans.
France was Davis' teammate with the Giants last summer, signing with New York on April 19 after spending the previous two offseasons in Minnesota. Originally a college free agent with the Vikings in 2002, he was waived at the end of each of the last three preseasons. He was also one of the kickers who came to Tampa last season for a tryout when the team was looking for a possible replacement for Martin Gramatica. The Vikings allocated France to the NFL Europe League during the 2003 offseason and he hit four of eight field goals for the Rhein Fire, including a 53-yarder. At Toledo, France finished his career as the career scoring leader among kickers in the Mid-American Conference. He hit on 56 of 81 field goal tries and 152 of 154 extra point attempts for a total of 320 points. France hails from Maumee, Ohio.
The 6-7, 315-pound Jimenez originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Cleveland in 2003. After the Browns waived him at the end of the '03 preseason, he spent the rest of the season on the Green Bay Packers' practice squad. This past offseason, the Packers allocated Jimenez to the NFLEL and he played in 11 games, including World Bowl XII, with the Frankfurt Galaxy. The Packers released him in the final cutdown last season and he eventually signed with Oakland's practice squad in October, finishing the season with the Raiders. At Southern Miss, started every game of his final two seasons and was a second-team all-conference choice as a senior, allowing just two sacks all season. Born in Queens, New York, Jimenez grew up in Orlando.
Lewis first joined the Bucs in early October when Murphy was moved to injured reserve. A former track star in high school, Lewis showed his big-play potential as a junior at San Diego State, averaging a remarkable 25.1 yards per catch on 31 receptions. He came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent with New Orleans in 2002 and spent most of his rookie season on the Saints' practice squad, finally seeing his first action in the regular season finale. Lewis also appeared in the first three regular season games of 2003, catching one pass for seven yards, but then returned to the Saints' practice squad. After being released on the final cutdown this past season, Lewis signed with the Buccaneers on October 6 and was inactive for one game before being waived again. Also a promising kick return threat, Lewis hails from New Orleans.
When the Bucs waived Lewis in October, it was to clear a spot for Madise, another receiver who would spend one week on the active roster. Like Lewis, Madise has potential as both a receiver and kick returner. The 5-11, 215-pounder averaged 27.4 yards on five kickoff returns for the Denver Broncos in 2003. Denver drafted Madise in the fifth round in 2003 and he saw action in 11 games as a rookie, catching two passes for 10 yards. He was waived by the Broncos on October 11 last fall and claimed by the Buccaneers, who made him inactive for one game before releasing him again. At TCU, Madise appeared in 22 games over two seasons and caught 82 passes for 1,343 yards and seven touchdowns. He was the team's Most Valuable Player as a junior. Madise hails from Lancaster, Texas.
The 6-3, 200-pound Metcalf came into the league as a rookie free agent with Oakland in 2003 but was waived prior to training camp. His only other NFL opportunity before Friday's signing was the aforementioned Buccaneer rookie camp last April. At SCSU, Metcalf earned four letters and was an all-conference choice as a senior, when he led the team with 30 receptions for 724 yards and seven touchdowns. As a junior, he averaged 32.2 yards per catch, racking up 515 yards on just 16 grabs. Canadian-born, Metcalf played his prep ball in Seattle. He is the son of former NFL standout Terry Metcalf.
Pearson (5-10, 190) appeared in five games as a rookie with the Cleveland Browns in 2002. He joined the team as an undrafted free agent out of Grambling but made the active roster with an impressive training camp. After playing through September and recording seven tackles plus two stops on special teams, Pearson was waived on October 8 and re-signed to the Browns' practice squad, where he spent the remainder of the season. He went back to camp with Cleveland in 2003 but ended up on the New York Giants' practice squad. Pearson joined the Buccaneers last January and had another strong training camp, making it to the team's final cut in September. He later spent two separate weeks on the Bucs' practice squad in December. At Grambling, where Pearson transferred after starting at Morehouse College, he recorded 74 tackles, four sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles as a senior. Pearson was born and raised in Town Creek, Alabama and is the cousin of former NFL CB Antonio Langham.
Save (pronounced Sah-vay) signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent last spring but ended up splitting the preseason between San Francisco and Baltimore. The Ravens signed Save for the last week of August but released him on the 31st. A powerful 6-1 and 313 pounds, Save started 30 of his final 36 games at Colorado State as the nose guard, recording 103 tackles, seven sacks, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and four passes defensed. Born in Hawaii, he played his high school ball in Santa Ana, California.
A walk-on at Florida State who earned a scholarship from the coaching staff during preseason practice before his first season, Sawyer held the Seminoles' long-snapping job for four years before heading to the NFL last spring. An undrafted free agent with the Patriots, Sawyer (6-2, 250) was eventually waived on August 31. At FSU, Sawyer played in every game over his four years in Tallahassee, handling every snap over that period. As a freshman, he appeared in the National Championship game against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Though he was born in Gainesville, Sawyer played high school football in Cordele, Georgia.
Simnjanovski came into the league as an undrafted free agent with Arizona in 2003 and has been to camp the last two seasons with the Cardinals and the Jets, respectively. At SDSU, he compiled the three top single-season punting marks in school history, averaging 42.1 yards per kick in 2002, 43.6 in 2001 and 42.8 in 2000. As a sophomore, he ranked second in the Mountain West Conference and 14th nationally with his 42.8-yard average. Simnjanovski also handled the kickoff duties at San Diego State for four years. He hails from Escondido, California.
White returns to the Bucs 17 months after he last played for Tampa Bay, during the 2003 preseason. In the interim, he had two short stints on the Washington Redskins' active roster in 2003 and went to camp with Green Bay last summer. White first joined the Buccaneers in January two years ago, as Tampa Bay was working its way through the playoffs to Super Bowl XXXVII. He was on the Bucs' practice squad for most of the postseason, including the Super Bowl, then went to camp with the team in 2003 before being waived in late August. The 6-4, 303-pound White first entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick of the Saints in 2001. He split his rookie season between the active roster and practice squad in New Orleans. Before joining the Bucs in the playoffs, White saw time on four different practice squads in 2002, moving from the Saints to the Jets to the Packers and finally to the Kansas City Chiefs. At Oregon State, White played two seasons and started all 24 games at right tackle. He played his prep ball in Rancho Bernardo, California.