WR Joey Galloway scored five touchdowns over the Bucs' last five games in 2004
Call them cap-strapped if you must, but the 2005 Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to do an excellent job of retaining their own key players.
On Tuesday, the Bucs announced the re-signing of 11th-year wide receiver Joey Galloway, one of the NFL's fastest men and the owner of 60 career touchdowns. As is team policy, details of the contract, including its length, were not released by the Buccaneers.
Galloway's return was by no means a sure thing; he had become an unrestricted free agent a week earlier, about the time the Bucs were making a variety of roster moves to get under the 2005 salary cap.
Bringing Galloway back is a coup for Tampa Bay, which originally acquired the former Seahawk and Cowboy in a trade with Dallas last spring. Head Coach Jon Gruden expected Galloway to be a new and dangerous threat in his offensive system, and indeed the 5-11, 197-pound receiver was a prolific pass-catcher and scoring threat over the last two months of the 2004 season. In between, he lost most of the first half of the season to a groin injury, but he came back strong with 24 catches for 305 yards and five touchdowns in the Bucs' last five games.
In all, Galloway finished fourth on the team last year with 33 receptions for 416 yards and five touchdowns. His career totals in 11 NFL seasons (including a two-year stretch in 1999-2000 in which he played in only nine games) feature 467 catches for 7,214 yards and 54 touchdowns. His scoring numbers and career mark of 15.4 yards per reception attest to his often dominant big-play potential.
Galloway's signing continues an encouraging run of players returning to the Buccaneers rather than become cap casualties or free agency defections. It began on Feb. 27 with the re-signing of quarterback Brian Griese to a new and extended contract, and continued on March 1 with fullback Mike Alstott's restructured deal. Defensive end Greg Spires did the same thing three days later, and tight end Dave Moore returned to the team after briefly hitting the open market.
Galloway was clearly one of the Bucs' offseason priorities. With the emergence of then-rookie Michael Clayton last year, the Bucs were eager to pair their up-and-coming receiver – a big, physical target with run-after-the-catch explosiveness – with the home run-hitting Galloway. Over the last four games of 2004, when both players were in full stride, Clayton and Galloway averaged combined totals of 10 catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns per game. That's a dual passing threat rarely seen in Buccaneer annals.
Galloway has also been a punt-return threat throughout his career, with five touchdowns and a career average of 9.8 yards per runback. Last year, he returned 20 punts for 142 yards and one touchdown as a Buccaneer.
The former Ohio State standout first entered the NFL as a first-round draft of the Seahawks in 1995, going eighth overall. He was an instant hit in Seattle, averaging 65 catches, 1031 yards and nine receiving touchdowns over his first four seasons. After five years in Seattle, he was traded to Dallas in 2000 for two first-round draft picks. He lost all but one game of his first year with the Cowboys to a knee injury, but came back with three strong seasons from 2001-03, highlighted by his totals of 61-908-6 in 2002. On March 19, 2004, the Buccaneers acquired Galloway in exchange for wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.