CB Corey Ivy has been the Bucs' most productive special teams cover men over the last two years, recording 39 tackles
Corey Ivy spent his first two seasons in professional football constantly on the move, but he has found a measure of stability in Tampa. That was reinforced on Tuesday when Ivy re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for whom he will head into his fourth season this summer. As is team policy, terms of Ivy's contract were not disclosed.
Ivy, a third-year cornerback, is one of the Bucs' most productive special teams players, and his re-signing is another indication of how seriously the team is taking that phase of the game this offseason. Other free agent signings that should directly impact the Bucs' kicking game include those of punter Josh Bidwell, linebackers Keith Burns and Jeff Gooch and fullback Greg Comella. In addition, tight end Dave Moore may compete for the long-snapping job and WR Joey Galloway and RB Brandon Bennett could play roles in the return game.
The 5-8, 183-pound Ivy was the Bucs' special teams MVP in 2002 and he has led the team in kick-coverage tackles in each of the last two years. His totals over the last two years include 39 special teams tackles, including 32 solo stops. Ivy is also an expert at downing punts near the opponents' goal line, helping Tom Tupa set a team record in 2002 with 30 punts dropped inside the 20.
Ivy has also seen spot duty as a reserve cornerback in the Bucs' defense over the past two seasons, plus briefly in 2001. In that role, he has contributed 24 tackles and two passes defensed, including 17 stops and both passes defensed last fall.
A hard-working and positive player, Ivy has found a home in Tampa after traveling extensively in 1999 and 2000. He originally entered the league in '99 as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots, for whom he spent a short period of time on the practice squad. Ivy then went to Europe to play for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the NFLEL in the spring of 2000, drawing enough attention to be picked up by the Cleveland Browns prior to camp that summer.
Ivy didn't stick with the Browns, either, so his next stop was in the short-lived XFL in the spring of 2001. A standout with the Chicago Enforcers of that league, Ivy got another crack at training camp with the Bucs in the summer of '01 and was able to win a spot on Tampa Bay's practice squad. Nine weeks into the season, the Bucs signed Ivy to the active roster and he appeared in one game, playing nickel back at Detroit and contributing six tackles. After four more games on the active roster but the game inactive list, Ivy returned to the Bucs' practice squad for the rest of the season.
Tampa Bay then sent him back to Europe, where he once again excelled for the Galaxy. Returning to camp in 2002, Ivy made the Bucs' 53-man roster to start the season and has appeared in all 32 regular season games since, plus the 2002 playoffs. During the Bucs' run to the Super Bowl XXXVII title, Ivy recorded three tackles on defense, five special teams stops and a forced fumble.
Though he has been with the Buccaneers since 2001, Ivy had accrued only two years of NFL free agency credit by the end of 2003, as he was on the active roster for only four games in '01. Thus, when his contract expired this offseason, he became an 'exclusive rights' free agent, meaning he could only negotiate with the Buccaneers as long as the team extended a qualifying offer prior to free agency.
Ivy is the second exclusive rights free agent to re-sign with the team since the start of free agency, following long-snapper Ryan Benjamin. The Bucs have also re-signed two of their own unrestricted free agents, G Cosey Coleman and TE Rickey Dudley.