McCardell: Bucs declined bid for a trade during draft
Keenan McCardell and his reps say his wish to be traded was made clear, but the front office said no.
By ROGER MILLS
Published August 28, 2004
TAMPA - Receiver Keenan McCardell told a national radio audience on Friday that the Bucs turned down an opportunity to trade him on draft day.
Speaking on the Jim Rome Show, aired locally on WDAE-AM 620, McCardell said he knows "for a fact" that the Bucs had a chance to get a draft pick for him but balked at the chance although the team knew he had no intention of playing in Tampa under his current contract.
General manager Bruce Allen could not be reached for comment on McCardell's statements, but the player's representatives stood behind their client.
"We find it curious that Bruce continues to deny us formal permission to seek a trade," said Steve Caric, spokesman for agent Gary Uberstine. "We have to ask, if it is true that no team has an interest in Keenan, what's the harm in allowing us to explore a process he claims to know won't bear any fruit? What's he hiding from? We have knowledge that before the draft, and currently, teams have an interest in acquiring Keenan's services."
Caric said McCardell's wishes were expressed at a predraft meeting with the player, Uberstine and Allen, at which time they asked the Bucs to put the 34-year-old receiver on the market.
"At that time it was made clear that if something could not be worked out to everyone's satisfaction that Keenan wanted to be released or traded," Caric said. "Bruce refused both, as he did again this week."
Speaking on the same station later Friday, Allen said no team has expressed interest in McCardell, who had 84 catches for 1,174 yards and eight receiving touchdowns last season, despite reports that the Chiefs are among those interested.
"If somebody was going to trade for him at this point, they would have called us," Allen said. "We don't have an unlisted number here. People know the situation. ... The first goal was to do what's right for this team and this organization."
McCardell no longer wants to return to Tampa and accused coach Jon Gruden of going back on his promises.
"He told me at the Pro Bowl, "Don't worry about the contract,' and I put faith in him," McCardell said. "It gets to the offseason, and they bring Bruce in here and (Gruden) says he'll let Bruce handle it. He just washed his hands of it."
Comparing the front office with a pastor, McCardell said, "You found out he was sinning, why would you want to go back to that church? If you don't believe in him, why would you go back?"
Due to make $2.5-million, McCardell wants to be paid closer to the average of the No. 1 receivers in the league, approximately $4.4-million. His contract will pay him $2.75-million next season, the last year of the deal.
He is being fined $5,000 per day since the start of training camp (30 days) and has lost two preseason game checks. The team also has petitioned to get back the $1-million left on his signing bonus.
"When we put this team together this year, we had certain guys already scheduled to make money and every player on this team has complied with that except Keenan," said Allen, who pointed out that disgruntled cornerback Ty Law is still with the Patriots despite a similarly ugly contract dispute this offseason. "I don't think it would be fair right now to even try to unwrap the salary cap at this point. ... There is no free money in this league. Everything has to be accounted for."
The Bucs have since signed veteran receivers Tim Brown and Bill Schroeder, who will earn $760,000 and $660,000, respectively.