Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Something for the Offense: TE Stevens

After a draft devoted almost solely to defense, the Bucs gave their offense a boost, too: Sixth-year tight end Jerramy Stevens, a former Seahawk with outstanding receiving skills

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Former Seahawks TE Jerramy Stevens, who averaged 38 receptions from 2003-05, signed with the Buccaneers as a free agent during the draft on Sunday

Jerramy Stevens grew up in the state of Washington, stayed near home to play for the Washington Huskies and was drafted into the pro ranks by the closest NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks.

Upon hitting free agency for the first time, however, Stevens has chosen to leap all the way across the nation. The explosive sixth-year tight end is the newest Buccaneer, having signed as an unrestricted free agent with Tampa Bay on Sunday. The Bucs released that news shortly after the conclusion of the 2007 NFL Draft, in which the team used most of its picks on defense.

Stevens, a first-round pick himself in 2002, became an unrestricted free agent on March 2. He and second-round guard Arron Sears were the most notable draft-weekend additions to the Bucs' offense after six of the team's first seven picks were spent on defenders.

The enormously talented Stevens could give the Bucs a lethal two-tight end combination, combining with up-and-coming pass-catcher Alex Smith. At 6-7 and 260 pounds, Stevens has the bulk to provide strong blocking on the line but pairs that with uncommon speed and agility for his size. He caught 22 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns during an injury-marred 2006 season after averaging 38 receptions for 452 yards and four touchdowns.

"He's a good player," said General Manager Bruce Allen, announcing the move shortly after the conclusion of the draft. "He is a big, powerful, speedy tight end. He has had some off-the-field issues that have hampered him a bit. We had a very serious talk with him today. I think Jerramy Stevens is a good young man. He is focused on doing things right. More importantly, he has to do things right."

The Seahawks selected Stevens in the first round in 2002; at 28th overall he was the earliest drafted tight end in Seattle franchise history. In his five seasons with the Seahawks, he played in 71 games, started 26 and caught 130 passes for 1,458 yards and 15 touchdowns. In five postseason games (one start), Stevens added 12 grabs for 120 yards and two more scores.

Stevens' best season came during Seattle's Super Bowl run in 2005. He set career highs that year with 45 receptions, 554 yards, five touchdowns and a 12.3-yard per-catch average. His yardage and TD totals set new Seahawk records for the tight end position. Stevens came up big in the playoffs, too, catching 11 passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns.

The Buccaneers got 55 receptions for 381 yards and four touchdowns out of the tight end spot last year, but 35 of those catches and three of the four scores belonged to Smith, the second-year tight end out of Stanford. The Buccaneers have used extensive two-TE sets over the past two seasons, putting Smith on the field with veteran Anthony Becht, a strong blocker and sure-handed receiver. The team made a trade just before the 2006 season to bring in former Raider and Jet tight end Doug Jolley, but Jolley played sparingly and finished the season with just one reception for seven yards.

Stevens was the third tight end drafted in 2002, following Jeremy Shockey and Daniel Graham. The Seahawks tapped him after he declared as a redshirt junior. Stevens played in 27 games at Washington, catching 74 passes for 953 yards. He was a finalist for the John Mackey Award in 2000 after setting a school record with 43 receptions for 600 yards.

A native of Olympia, Washington, Stevens was a highly-regarded quarterback prospect in high school. He joins Jeff Garcia, Cato June, Luke Petitgout, Kevin Carter, Patrick Chukwurah, Matt Lehr and Sammy Davis as notable players the Bucs have signed since the beginning of the free agency period.

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