Determined to make the most of a deep free agency pool and very favorable cap space, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to address needs both big and small.
The latest addition: Veteran quarterback Dan Orlovsky, who signed a two-year, $2.5 million deal with the Buccaneers on Wednesday. Josh Freeman is entrenched as Tampa Bay's starter, but the team had a need behind Freeman on the depth chart after Josh Johnson became an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.
Orlovsky is the fourth unrestricted free agent to join the Bucs in the first 24 hours of the 2012 free agency period, following the high-profile additions of guard Carl Nicks (five years, $47.5 million), wide receiver Vincent Jackson (five years, $55.5 million) and cornerback Eric Wright (five years, $37.5 million).
Orlovsky, whose seven previous NFL seasons have been spent in Detroit (2005-08), Houston (2009-10) and Indianapolis (2011), is coming off a strong finish to the 2011 campaign in which he started the Colts' last five games and led the team to its only two wins of the season. He appeared in eight games overall in Indianapolis, completing 63.2% of his passes (122 of 193) for 1,201 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions, leading to a strong passer rating of 82.4.
The 6-5, 230-pound Orlovsky signed with Indianapolis during the abbreviated free agency period last July but was released during the final roster cuts. It soon became clear that long-time Colts starter Peyton Manning would not return from a neck injury in 2011, and Orlovsky was re-signed in September. Curtis Painter began the season as Indy's number-one passer in Manning's place, but Orlovsky was elevated to the starting job in late November and quickly had a positive impact on the team.
In Orlovsky's first start of 2011, on the heels of the Colts' 0-11 run to start the year, he completed 30 of 37 passes for 353 yards, two touchdowns and one interception against New England. The Patriots held on to a tight 31-24 victory but Orlovsky finished with a passer rating of 113.1. Two weeks later, Orlovsky was at the helm as the Colts upended the Tennessee Titans, 27-13, as he hit on 11 of 17 passes for 82 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 95.7 passer rating. The following weekend, Orlovsky helped defeat his former team, the playoff-bound Texans, 19-16, by throwing for 244 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
Formerly a fifth-round pick by the Lions out of the University of Connecticut, Orlovsky saw his other extended starting action as a fourth-year pro in 2008. In his final season in Detroit he appeared in 10 games with seven starts and completed 143 of 255 passes for 1,616 yards, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Orlovsky spent four seasons as a starter at Connecticut as the franchise transitioned from Division I-AA football to a member of the Big East in Division I. He finished his career as the Huskies' all-time leader in pass completions (916), pass attempts (1,567), yards passing (10,706), touchdown passes (84), interceptions (51) and total yards (10,421). His top season came during his junior year, when he threw for 3,485 yards, led Division I-A football with 33 TDs and ranked seventh in the nation in passing. Orlovsky hails from Shelton, Connecticut.