Defensive back Corey Ivy, most recently of the XFL's Chicago Enforcers, was one of two free agents signed by the Bucs on Monday
Forget Johnson & Johnson (Brad and Keyshawn). Pay no mind to the colorful Kelly-Green matchup (CB Brian vs. WR Jacquez) in one-on-one drills or the possible safety tandem of Merrill-Lynch (Than and John, respectively). Brooks & Dunn will get together on the practice field when linebacker Derrick covers running back Warrick, but that's old news.
Those duos are passe. We've got the most tantalizing name-on-name matchup set to debut in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2001 training camp.
Corey Ivy on Khori Ivy.
That defensive back-receiver battle was made possible on Monday when the Bucs signed Corey Ivy to a two-year contract. The team also inked free agent long-snapper Sean McDermott to a two-year deal and released rookie DT Andy Aracri.
Ivy, a 5-8, 183-pound cornerback out of Oklahoma, shares a name, at least phonetically, with Buccaneers rookie wide receiver Khori Ivy, out of West Virginia. The newer Ivy most recently played for the Chicago Enforcers of the now-defunct XFL, though he also suited up for the NFL Europe League's Frankfurt Galaxy in the spring of 2000 and has been to training camp with both the New England Patriots (1999) and the Cleveland Browns (2000).
As a rookie, Ivy entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Patriots and went on to make a brief December appearance on New England's practice squad. His signing and the release of Aracri occurred after practice on Monday.
McDermott (6-4, 250), however, was signed in time to join the team on the field for the two-hour session.
He last played on the college level, finishing a five-year run at Kansas in 1999. Though he was forced into a medical redshirt by a stress fracture in what would have been his senior season in '98, the Fort Worth, Texas native returned the following fall for his fourth year as the Jayhawks' long-snapper.
McDermott did not sign with any NFL team in the interim, so he is obviously somewhat of an unknown on the professional level. That's nothing new for McDermott, however. As a non-scholarship freshman, he walked on to the Jayhawks squad and immediately earned the long-snapping job.
Tampa Bay might be attempting to shore up a few thin spots with Monday's moves. The Buccaneers hit the 2001 open player market with 10 unrestricted free agents. Four of those 10 were starters in 2000, but the Bucs re-signed two of them – CB Ronde Barber and T Jerry Wunsch – and felt comfortable moving replacements in for the other two – Damien Robinson and Frank Middleton. All in all, it was a very satisfying free agency outcome for the Buccaneers.
Still, the departure or as-yet-unsigned status of the other unrestricted free agents has left some auxiliary roles to be filled. For instance, the team appears to be prepared to move on without veteran long-snapper Morris Unutoa, who handled the job well for all of 2000 and much of 1999. McDermott's addition will provide competition for snapper Ryan Benjamin, a rookie from the nearby University of South Florida.
In the defensive backfield, the Bucs are comfortable with third-year player Dexter Jackson moving into departed free safety Robinson's spot, but that move indirectly prompted the signing of Ivy. The Bucs have gone to training camp before with seven cornerbacks on the roster, but have usually had a player like Jackson that could swing between corner and safety. With Jackson concentrating solely on safety this season, and no other player expected to swing between the two spots, the team felt the need to bring on an eighth cornerback.
Aracri signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Miami of Ohio on April 23.
The Bucs now have 89 players on their roster, but eight of those are competing in the NFLEL season. The Bucs will go to camp with a group of 80, plus however many more exemptions the team earns through NFLEL play. Until they are signed, the team's 2001 draft picks do not count against the roster limit of 80 players.