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Help on the way for bucs

Ex-Jags receiver Keenan McCardell agrees to a four- year, $10-million contract.

By DARRELL FRY and RICK STROUD
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 8, 2002


TAMPA -- The Bucs reached an agreement with former Jaguars receiver Keenan McCardell on Friday, giving them the proven receiver they sought to play opposite Keyshawn Johnson.

He agreed to a four-year, $10-million deal, including a $2-million signing bonus.

McCardell's signing is expected to be announced early next week, possibly Monday. Bucs officials refused to confirm the deal Friday.

McCardell, 32, visited Thursday, attending a team gathering at Raymond James Stadium and meeting with several team officials, including coach Jon Gruden and general manager Rich McKay.

He left saying he was impressed with the team's sales pitch and the professionalism of the organization, then telephoned his agent. Within 24 hours, a deal was reached.

McCardell's signing figures to complete the team's offensive overhaul, which included the signings of running back Michael Pittman, tight end Ken Dilger and guard Kerry Jenkins. The team now is pursuing former Vikings linebacker Ed McDaniel.

"I'm glad to see the improvement," Johnson said by telephone from Los Angeles. "It's nice to finally have a proven NFL receiver playing opposite me."

Among a handful of quality, veteran receivers who hit the market June1, the 6-1, 191-pound McCardell was the Bucs' top choice. Former Chiefs receiver Derrick Alexander visited Wednesday -- he signed Friday with Minnesota -- but they remained partial to McCardell, who was let go by the Jags Monday after six seasons for salary-cap reasons.

McCardell told ESPN.com it came down to the Bucs and Chiefs.

"It really was a difficult decision," he said. "You're talking about two class teams here. I really like the idea, though, of staying in Florida."

In 10 seasons, he has had at least 1,000 receiving yards four times. Last season, he had 93 catches for 1,110 yards and six touchdowns.

McCardell figures to be at the team's final minicamp beginning Friday.


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