S Kalvin Pearson (39) will play in the NFL Europe League before returning for a second Buccaneer training camp
As of Monday morning, Mitch White could begin call himself a Centurion. Terrance Metcalf, on the other hand, is now a Sea Devil. Blue Adams? He is, simply, Fire.
White, Metcalf and Adams are Tampa Bay Buccaneers, too, but they've been allocated to the 2005 season of the NFL Europe League, so the next helmets they pull on will feature the unfamiliar logos of the Cologne Centurions, Hamburg Sea Devils and Rhein Fire, respectively.
As they do each winter, the 32 NFL teams have allocated several hundred players to compete in the NFLEL's 10-game spring season, played primarily in Germany. On Friday, the players were divided up between the six NFLEL teams through a draft and a veteran allocation process. The players' destinations were released on Monday morning, and seven Buccaneer allocates learned where they would be spending roughly three months this spring.
The Bucs actually allocated nine players to the NFLEL this year, but kicker Todd France and punter Brian Simnjanovski will have to wait a few more weeks to find out their team affiliations. All punters and kickers allocated to the NFLEL first go to a camp during the first week of March, then are divided among the teams.
The largest group of Buccaneers will be in Cologne. White, an offensive lineman, will be joined by safety Kalvin Pearson and defensive tackles Delbert Cowsette and Bryan Save. Metcalf is one of two Buccaneer receivers headed to Hamburg, along with Derek McCoy. Adams, a cornerback, will play in Rhein. There were no Bucs allocated to the Amsterdam Admirals, Frankfurt Galaxy or defending league champion Berlin Thunder, though France and Simnjanovski could eventually change that.
The NFL Europe League (nee the World League) has been around since 1991, but most of the Buccaneers will be playing on relatively new teams. The Cologne squad played its first season in 2004, replacing the Barcelona Dragons. The Hamburg team is in its first season, replacing the Scottish Claymores. Given the huge amount of turnover on each team's roster from year to year, this is not a significant competitive disadvantage.
The Bucs' list of allocated players was actually altered slightly before the draft. The team had originally planned to allocate WR Adrian Madise among its nine players, but later chose to send McCoy instead.
Some players allocated to the NFLEL are designated as "Level 1" and are assigned to teams before the draft. Cowsette was in this category and was sent to Cologne. Five of the Buccaneers' allocated players were then drafted, with Adams going first. Adams was the second pick of the second round, going eighth overall to Rhein. Save was drafted in the fifth round (28th overall), Pearson went in the seventh round (40th), White was next in the ninth round (52nd) and Metcalf was taken in the 16th round (91st). McCoy was then assigned to Hamburg after the 24-round draft.
Overall, the 32 NFL teams allocated a record 266 players for the NFLEL's 13th season. Coincidentally, that is almost the exact number of former NFL Europe competitors who appeared on NFL rosters last season: 265.
In Hamburg, McCoy and Metcalf will be catching passes from one of three quarterback who will vie for the starting job: Cincinnati's Casey Bramlet, Chicago's Ryan Dinwiddie and Indianapolis's Tom Arth.
Among the new teammates for the four Bucs in Cologne will be Kansas City QB Casey Clausen, former Buc LB Marq Cerqua, allocated by Dallas, and Seattle CB Kevin House, son of the former Tampa Bay receiver of the same name.
Adams' teammates on the Fire include QBs Scott McBrien of Green Bay and Jason Fife of Minnesota, as well as Jacksonville LB Tony Gilbert and Carolina T Matt Hill.
The NFL Europe League's joint training camp begins in March at various locations around the Tampa Bay area. The season kicks off on the weekend of April 2-3, with World Bowl XIII, the league's championship game, scheduled for June 11.