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Bucs pull out all the stops for McCardell

The team tries to woo the WR with theatrics at Raymond James.

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

TAMPA -- The Bucs, saying all along former Jaguars receiver Keenan McCardell tops their free-agent wish list, showed it Thursday, making an elaborate sales pitch at Raymond James Stadium.

Coach Jon Gruden gathered nearly the entire team and bused everyone to the stadium, where team officials rolled out the red carpet, firing canons from the pirate ship and running highlights on the jumbo video screens.

It was quite an effort to woo one player.

Former Chiefs receiver Derrick Alexander visited Wednesday but got none of the treatment McCardell did.

McCardell was impressed.

"It was real nice," he said. "I see why that organization has been so successful."

The Bucs are eager to bring in a proven receiver to play opposite Keyshawn Johnson. McCardell (6 feet 1, 191 pounds) was released Monday by the Jaguars for salary-cap reasons.

McCardell, 32, has been a standout for most of his 10 seasons in the league, catching 93 passes for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns this past season.

He also has visited the Chiefs, but said others continue to inquire about him.

He wouldn't say where the Bucs ranked among his choices.

"Everybody has a chance," he said. "Right now, everybody is just trying to feel out the market."

The Bucs might have an advantage by being in Florida. After playing for seven seasons in Jacksonville, McCardell said he would like to remain in the state, if possible.

"It would be nice," he said, "but I've got to see who is going to step up to the plate (in salary offer and other issues) because I'm going to step up to the plate on the field."

McCardell said he hopes to sign soon.

"It's time to get back to football," he said. "I'm ready."

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