Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Schroeder Signs On

Tampa Bay bolstered its receiving corps with the addition of veteran WR Bill Schroeder, a very productive player Buc fans will remember from his Packer and Lion days

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As a Packer, WR Bill Schroeder had several strong games against the Bucs during the old NFC Central battles

Bill Schroeder signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Tuesday, and if that's news worthy of a celebration in the Schroeder household, well, he'll get one in 10 days.

Celebration, Florida, that is.

Schroeder, a 10th-year veteran wide receiver who played the last two seasons with the Detroit Lions, has signed with the Buccaneers just before the team reports to its much-anticipated 2004 training camp. Along with 87 new teammates, Schroeder will report to the team's camp headquarters in Celebration on Friday, July 30. Practices start the next morning at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in nearby Lake Buena Vista.

It's not unusual for the Buccaneers to make significant additions to their roster shortly before camp. In 2002, the team signed veteran tackle Lomas Brown, a steadying veteran influence, just days before beginning their league championship run. Last year, the team swapped wide receiver Marquise Walker for Arizona running back Thomas Jones in mid-June.

In this case, Schroeder's signing may have been motivated in part by the June injury to wide receiver Sylvester Morris, who will miss the entire season after sustaining severe ligament damage in his left knee. Like Morris, who stands 6-3, 212 pounds, Schroeder is a big target at 6-3, 200 pounds.

Schroeder, 33, is also a proven NFL producer, with 297 receptions for 4,427 yards and 27 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons. The Wisconsin-LaCrosse product is also a big-play producer, with a strong career average of 14.9 yards per catch. From 1999-2001, Schroeder averaged annual totals of 64 catches for 989 yards and six touchdowns.

Schroeder is familiar to the Buccaneers as a veteran of the NFC Central wars Tampa Bay left behind when it joined the NFC South in 2002. Schroeder has played all seven of his seasons with former NFC Central (now NFC North) teams, spending 1997-2001 in Green Bay before jumping to Detroit for the past two seasons.

His last two games against Tampa Bay, in fact, were typically productive. As a Packer in 2001, Schroeder caught four passes for 119 yards and a touchdown in a 14-10 Green Bay loss in Tampa on October 7. As a Lion in 2002, he rang up 96 yards on four catches in a losing effort against the visiting Buccaneers on December 15.

Schroeder's career-best game, in fact, in the midst of his breakout season of 1999, came at the expense of the Buccaneers. Hauling in seven passes for a career-high 158 yards against the eventual NFC Central champs, Schroeder helped the Packers to a thrilling, 26-23 victory at Lambeau Field on October 10, 1999. Among his exploits that day were a 51-yard catch on the first play from scrimmage and a 42-yard play on the game-winning drive.

Schroeder's career got off to a slow start after he was drafted in the sixth round by Green Bay in 1994. He spent most of his rookie season on the Pack's practice squad, only joining the active roster in late December after Sterling Sharpe's career-ending injury. The Packers then traded Schroeder to New England before the 1995 season, which he subsequently lost to a foot injury. After spending '95 on injured reserve with the Patriots, he was released in 1996 and ended up back on Green Bay's practice squad for the entire campaign.

In 1997, after a strong performance in the NFL Europe League (then known as the World League), Schroeder made the Packers' roster and appeared in 15 games with one start, primarily serving as the team's punt returner. He averaged 9.9 yards on 35 punt returns and also brought back 24 kickoffs at a 23.4-yards-per clip.

In 1998, Schroeder became more involved in the Packers' passing attack as the third receiver, catching 31 passes for 452 yards and a score. His season ended early due to a broken collarbone suffered in the 13th game, but it set the stage for a big 1999.

Schroeder's prolific three-year stretch in Green Bay began with his only 1,000-yard season, a 74-1,051-5 effort that saw him tie for the team lead in receptions with Antonio Freeman. Though he would not break the 1,000-yard mark again, he would come as close as possible, putting up 999 yards in 2000 and 918 in 2001. The '01 campaign, his last as a Packer, also featured career highs in yards per catch (17.3) and touchdowns (nine).

Schroeder signed with the Lions in March of 2002 and went on to have consecutive 36-catch seasons in Detroit. In 2002, he turned those 36 grabs into 595 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 16.5 yards per catch.

Schroeder hails from Wisconsin, where he was born in Eau Claire and played high school ball in Sheboygan.

The Buccaneers now have 14 receivers on the roster heading into training camp, not counting Morris. Of those 14, six are rookies or first-year players, including first-round draft pick Michael Clayton. The team's most experienced receiver, 13th-year veteran Keenan McCardell, did not participate in the team's mandatory mini-camp in June. After McCardell and 10th-year man Joey Galloway, Schroeder would stand as the team's most experienced wideout.

Bill Schroeder's Career Receiving Statistics

**Year****Team****No.****Yds.****Avg.****Long****TD**
1997G.B.2157.581
1998G.B.3145214.6461
1999G.B.741,05114.2515
2000G.B.6599915.4554
2001G.B.5391817.3679
2002Det.3659516.5465
2003Det.3639711.0262
Totals 2974,42714.96727
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