The Tampa Bay Buccaneers plucked players from all over the country during the first few days of free agency, but they haven't had to look far for their two most recent signings.
On Wednesday, the Buccaneers inked wide receiver Louis Murphy, most recently of the New York Giants, to a one-year contract. Like cornerback Mike Jenkins, who signed with the Buccaneers last Friday, Murphy is a homegrown talent, having starred in football and track at Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg. Jenkins played at Southeast High in Bradenton before earning All-America honors at the nearby University of South Florida.
Murphy went upstate to play his college ball, joining a University of Florida team that would win two BCS titles during his four years on the squad. He was then drafted in the fourth round in 2009 by the Oakland Raiders, for whom he played his first three NFL seasons. An Oakland-Carolina trade brought Murphy to the NFC South in 2012 and the free agent market took him to New York last season.
Overall, Murphy has played in 71 NFL games with 24 starts, catching 121 passes for 1,744 yards and eight touchdowns. During his first two seasons with the Raiders, he started 18 games and caught 75 passes for 1,130 yards and six TDs. He owns a fine career mark of 14.4 yards per catch, topping the 14.9 mark in each of his three years in Oakland, and has also run 14 times for 146 yards and a score.
Murphy is the first wide receiver the Buccaneers have added during a very busy two weeks of free agency. The team greeted the opening of the free agent market on March 11 with the quick signings of defensive end Michael Johnson (formerly of Cincinnati), defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (Seattle), tight end Brandon Myers (N.Y. Giants) and cornerback Alterraun Verner (Tennessee), then added quarterback Josh McCown (Chicago) and tackle Anthony Collins (Cincinnati) over the next two days. Subsequent unrestricted free agent signings have included center Evan Dietrich-Smith, linebacker Dane Fletcher, guard Oneil Cousins and, most recently, Jenkins.