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Green returns to Bucs

He signs a one-year deal, as does Aaron Stecker, and brings a commodity the Bucs can use - speed at receiver and on punt, kick returns.

By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 11, 2003

TAMPA -- Jacquez Green will return ... mostly punts and kickoffs for the Bucs.

Green, who spent his first four NFL seasons in Tampa Bay, agreed Thursday to a one-year deal worth $530,000.

He will compete for the fourth receiver spot, but his most immediate impact could come as a kick returner, a role Green rarely played after his rookie year.

The Bucs also announced the signing of restricted free-agent running back Aaron Stecker to a one-year deal. Terms were not released.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Green does not resemble players who form a towering receiving corps for Bucs coach Jon Gruden. But he provides the Bucs a commodity they haven't had -- speed.

A second-round pick by the Bucs out of Florida in 1998, Green enjoyed back-to-back seasons of more than 50 receptions in 1999 and 2000. But his role was diminished after the Bucs traded for receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who caught 106 passes in 2001.

Green left Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent before last season, becoming one of five Florida players to join former Gators coach Steve Spurrier with the Washington Redskins.

He began on a high note, returning a punt 90 yards for a touchdown to provide the Redskins' only score in a 37-7 loss to the Eagles. But he caught just five passes for 95 yards through 10 games and was claimed off waivers by the Lions. He was inactive the final six weeks of the season before being released last week.

But following an impressive workout Wednesday morning in which he displayed his speed, Green was offered a contract.

In 66 games with 37 starts, he has 162 catches for 2,311 yards and seven touchdowns.

Stecker broke into the NFL on the Bucs practice squad in 1999 before being designated for NFL Europe the following spring. After being named the most valuable player in NFL Europe, he was relegated to kick return duties and special teams.

Last season, he was the Bucs' primary kickoff returner, finishing fifth in the NFC and eighth in the NFL with a 25.2 average. He also set career highs in carries (28) and rushing yardage (174).

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