TE Ken Dilger has 56 receptions in two seasons as a Buccaneer
Ken Dilger is returning to the team with which he won a Super Bowl championship.
On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced the re-signing of Dilger, the team's starting tight end for the past two seasons, including the 2002 title campaign. Dilger, who is entering his 10th NFL season, had previously been released by the team on the eve of free agency in a salary-cap related move.
After three weeks of plundering the free agent market for nearly 20 new additions to the team, the Bucs have in recent days turned their sights on returning players. On Monday, guard Cosey Coleman, an unrestricted free agent who played his first four seasons in Tampa, signed a new deal with the team. Also, the Bucs have announced the re-signing of restricted free agent long-snapper Ryan Benjamin.
In his two Buccaneer seasons, Dilger has played in 31 of a possible 32 regular season games, with 30 starts. Over those two seasons, he caught 56 passes for 573 yards and three touchdowns, the top receiving totals for a Buccaneer tight end in that span.
Overall, Dilger's career numbers include 140 games played, 137 starts and 317 receptions for 3,754 yards and 21 touchdowns. He spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Indianapolis Colts after being selected in the second round (48th overall) in 1995.
Dilger has long been considered one of the league's 'complete' tight ends, in that he excels at both blocking and pass receiving. At 6-5, 250 pounds he can be a punishing blocker, and he is also one of only six active tight ends in the NFL with 300 career receptions.
Last year, in 15 starts, Dilger led all Buccaneer tight ends with 22 receptions for 244 yards and a touchdown. In the Bucs' Super Bowl season, he contributed 34 receptions for 329 yards and two touchdowns, then added seven grabs for 88 yards in the playoffs.
Dilger's seven seasons in Indianapolis were capped with a Pro Bowl campaign in 2001, when he caught 32 passes for 343 yards and one touchdown. His top receiving season actually came the year before, however, when he hauled in 47 passes for 538 yards and three touchdowns. Dilger topped 40 receptions in four of his seven seasons with the Colts and also recorded at least three touchdowns in four different campaigns.
Dilger was a three-year starter at Illinois, catching 81 passes for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns in his collegiate career. His drafting by the Colts was a homecoming of sorts, as he hails from Mariah Hill, Indiana.
With Dilger's re-signing, the Bucs now have four tight ends under contract, after most of the position had been affected by free agency. Rickey Dudley, who became an unrestricted free agent on March 3, re-signed with the Bucs a few days later, but Todd Yoder, another unrestricted free agent, jumped to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Bucs' first signing of the free agent period was the Buffalo Bills' Dave Moore, who has played in Tampa from 1992-2001. Second-year man Will Heller returns to round out the current crew.
Benjamin also returns for a third season with the Buccaneers after handling all of the team's long-snapping duties in 2003 and much of 2002.
The first University of South Florida product to play for the hometown Buccaneers, Benjamin joined the team in October of 2002 after a season-ending injury to snapper Mike Solwold. He handled the snapping duties for the final 10 games plus the playoffs of that season, executing his job without one botched snap. Benjamin returned in 2003 to fill the same role for all 16 games.
Benjamin first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Buccaneers in 2001, and later had stops in New England and Chicago, including one regular-season game for the Bears. He hails from Newport Richey, Florida.