The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed wide receiver Steve Smith, as first reported by Jenna Laine, who is breaking a lot of these signings lately. No, not that Steve Smith. The Bucs signed the one who has struggled with injuries in recent years after being a Pro Bowl slot receiver with the New York Giants in 2009. The Buccaneers did not steal a future Hall of Famer from the Carolina Panthers, sadly.
Smith's contract is worth $715,000 in one year, with a $65,000 workout bonus according to Stephen Holder. Smith should compete with Kevin Ogletree, Tiquan Underwood, Chris Owusu and the other wide receivers on the roster behind Vincent Jackson and Mike WIlliams. The Bucs are clearly intent on upgrading their wide receiver position through sheer volume of competition.
Smith was a very nice player for the New York Giants in 2009, racking up 1,220 yards on 107 catches as a slot receiver but saw his production plummet the next season before ending on injured reserve with a knee injury. Since then, he has never performed up to his previous standards, managing just 255 receiving yards over the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams.
Still, he has one thing going for him: he played for current Bucs offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, when the latter was the Giants' receivers coach. He had his most productive seasons under Sullivan, and he knows the offense the Bucs are running. At a minimum, he'll provide some competition in training camp. And with a little luck, he'll be a productive receiver at the low low cost of near veteran minimum.
All of this appears to be part of a bigger plan for the Buccaneers this offseason: increase the competition at every position. The Bucs have added a slew of cheap free agents at various positions, many of whom will serve to simply increase the competition during training camp. This should displace some of the undrafted free agents who usually populate the bottom of every NFL roster but rarely stand a realistic chance of making an impact on the field. There are always a few undrafted free agents who are simply there to keep practices going -- and replacing them with veterans who can offer a higher level of competition only makes sense.
Of course, one thing's a little curious there: they haven't added a lick of competition at cornerback. Yes, the Buccaneers have a slew of young bodies at the position already -- but why does competition at every position not appear to include the cornerback position -- at least so far? They will add a few cornerbacks before the offseason is over, but it is interesting to say the least.