Though he's proven quite good while on the run, QB Luke McCown has chosen to stay put in Tampa with a new contract
Luke McCown will be learning a new offensive system in 2009, but not because he has a new NFL home.
On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that they have re-signed sixth-year quarterback Luke McCown. As is team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
McCown was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on February 28. Instead, he now joins Brian Griese and Josh Johnson as a trio of returning quarterbacks who will become familiar with new Offensive Coordinator Jeff Jagodzinksi's system. The Buccaneers hired Jagodzinski, the former Boston College head coach, after promoting Raheem Morris to head coach in January.
The Buccaneers had four quarterbacks under contract in 2008. Jeff Garcia, who started 11 of the team's 16 games this past fall, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when the market opens on the 28th.
McCown has primarily been a reserve since his arrival in Tampa via a draft-day trade in 2005. However, he has seen action in seven regular-season games for the Buccaneers and has been sharp when given the opportunity. In fact, McCown's career passer rating of 91.0 as a Buccaneer is the second-highest in team history among all players with at least 100 passes.
"Luke McCown is a talented and athletic quarterback who we have gotten to know well over the last four years," said Head Coach Raheem Morris. "I know he is looking forward to the opportunity to be an integral part of our quarterback group this season."
The 6-3, 212-pound McCown has good size and a rifle arm, and he also brings surprising mobility to the position. A gifted athlete, he has rushed 21 times for 157 yards (5.1 avg.), with a long of 31, in his 12 career games played.
The bulk of McCown's action as a Buccaneer came in 2007, when he started three late-season games in place of Garcia and helped keep Tampa Bay's drive for the NFC South title on track. In five games that season, McCown completed 94 of 139 passes (67.6%) for 1,009 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. In the game that essentially clinched the division crown for the Buccaneers in New Orleans in Week 13, he hit on 29 of 37 throws (78.4%) for 313 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, throwing the winning TD toss to tight end Jerramy Stevens with 14 seconds left in regulation.
McCown was also pressed into service as a rookie with the Cleveland Browns in 2004. He started four games in the second half of that campaign and threw for 608 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions under very unfavorable circumstances.
The Browns, who had selected McCown in the fourth round (106th overall) of the '04 draft, traded the Louisiana Tech product to the Buccaneers for an extra sixth-round pick Tampa Bay had previously acquired from San Diego. McCown made the Bucs' roster in 2005 and eventually rose to second on the depth chart but did not see action in any games. He was in the middle of a strong 2006 offseason when a practice-field knee injury forced him onto the physically unable to perform list for the first half of the regular season. Again, he did not see action after being re-activated to the 53-man roster for the second half of the year.
After the signing of McCown, the Bucs have 12 remaining players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the month. Before free agency begins, players are only allowed to negotiate with the teams with whom they played the previous season.