By EMILY NIPPS, ROGER MILLS
Published August 29, 2004
TAMPA - Bucs general manager Bruce Allen on Saturday vehemently denied he turned down trade offers for receiver Keenan McCardell on draft day.
"Am I going to do this every time? No team has called," Allen said.
On Jim Rome's nationally syndicated talk show Friday, McCardell said the Bucs had an offer on the table to trade him for a middle-round pick.
He and agent Gary Uberstine said they informed Allen before the draft that if the team had no intention of reworking his contract, he wanted to be traded or released.
Asked Saturday if a trade was a possibility, Allen responded, "I don't deal in hypotheticals. I'm not into absolutes. I expect (McCardell) to do one of two things: report like everyone else or do what he said he would do, sit out the season."
McCardell, 34, is due to make $2.5-million this season and has asked to be paid close to the average of the No. 1 receivers in the league excluding those with rookie contracts, about $4.4-million. Last season, McCardell had 84 receptions for 1,174 yards and eight touchdowns. He will earn $2.75-million next season, the last year of his deal.
Today marks the 31st day of McCardell's holdout.
The team is fining him $5,000 a day and a game check for every missed preseason game (three so far) and has asked for the remaining $1-million of his signing bonus to be returned.
Negotiations between the Bucs and McCardell's representatives have become bitter.
Friday, Uberstine said he asked for permission to seek a trade and reiterated there are teams who have and continue to express interest in McCardell.
"Has anyone called (us)? No," Allen said.
HEARTY WELCOME: Simply seeing linebacker Derrick Brooks back in uniform Saturday was worth a sigh of relief for the Bucs, who have been riddled with injuries since the start of training camp. Brooks, who missed two games with a sprained left knee, said he is the first of two missing links the Bucs need to feel whole again.
"It was the first sense of normalcy we felt," Brooks said. "That's what everyone was saying in the pregame and in the huddle. Now we are waiting on ( Shelton Quarles, broken wrist) and we will have that sense of unity."
Brooks got the crowd riled up as he ran out of the tunnel. He stooped, danced and jumped around to announce his arrival.
BOLTS IN THE HOUSE: Aside from the two touchdowns, some runs by Mike Alstott and the return of Brooks, the Lightning drew the loudest cheers. Highlights from Game 7 of the Cup final were shown on the jumbo screen followed by coach John Tortorella, general manager Jay Feaster and players Dave Andreychuk and Nolan Pratt, who waved and smiled from a suite. Fans gave a standing ovation while the stadium announcer thanked them for creating a "Title Town," a moniker already used by Green Bay.
SOMETHING TO PROVE: Strongside linebacker Ryan Nece had his best outing for the Bucs this preseason, returning an interception 56 yards for a touchdown during the fourth quarter.
Nece started last season, but free agent Ian Gold has supplanted him. Nece also forced a fumble in the first preseason game against Cincinnati.
"We put a big emphasis on getting turnovers, and not just getting turnovers but getting touchdowns out of it," Nece said. "(Coach Jon Gruden) put that emphasis on us and challenged us."
THIRD-DOWN WOES: Miami was 5-of-8 on third down (63 percent) during the first half. Tampa Bay aims to hold teams to less than 40 percent. The defense tightened in the second half as the Dolphins finished 7-for-16 (44 percent). MIAMI TIES: If the Dolphins offense looked familiar (and perhaps a bit stagnant), it's because the man pulling the strings has Buccaneers roots.
Miami offensive coordinator ChrisFoerster was Tampa Bay's offensive line coach from 1996-2001 under former coach Tony Dungy.
Dolphins running backs coach Joel Collier was an offensive assistant in 1990.
On the Bucs side, there were several players who likely grew up as Dolphins fans.
Tampa Bay quarterback Brian Griese, fullback Jameel Cook, cornerback Torrie Cox and safety Tavaris Robinson attended high school in Miami.
Running back Earnest Graham grew up in Naples, and receiver Charles Lee, who has been out with a hamstring injury, is from Homestead.