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Trade brings end to McCardell saga

The Bucs get multiple draft picks from San Diego for disgruntled holdout receiver Keenan McCardell.

By RICK STROUD
Published October 20, 2004

[Times files]
Keenan McCardell says he is "thrilled'' to be a Charger, though the team will not restructure his contract.

TAMPA - Keenan McCardell will get his wish to play for a new team, but he still doesn't have a new contract.

The Bucs' disgruntled receiver was traded to San Diego in exchange for the Chargers' third- and sixth-round picks in the 2005 draft. Tampa Bay also could receive an additional fifth-rounder if McCardell makes the Pro Bowl this year or in 2005.

The deal was struck less than an hour before the NFL's trading deadline of 4 p.m. Tuesday. It ends an 82-day holdout by McCardell, who had two years remaining on his contract with the Bucs that would have paid him $2.5-million this season and $2.75-million in 2005.

However, McCardell, 34, will not have his contract restructured by the Chargers.

Tuesday's trade came just over a week after McCardell flew to Tampa to meet with coach Jon Gruden in an unsuccessful attempt to end the stalemate.

Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said he began discussions with Chargers GM A.J. Smith over the weekend about trading McCardell but waited to make sure the team didn't sustain injuries at the receiver position Monday night.

"It's unfortunate. Holdouts are bad," Allen said. "They're bad for the player. You never can make up that time and you never can make up missing a game, just the life experience of each game. Whether you win or lose, it's something that you'll remember the rest of your life and he's missed an important part of his life.

"This is never something we were anxious to do. From the beginning, we wanted Keenan to be a part of the team."

McCardell was the second receiver the Chargers acquired Tuesday after learning starting receiver Reche Caldwell would miss the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament he suffered in Sunday's loss to Atlanta.

Earlier in the day, they signed free agent Bobby Shaw to a one-year contract.

"I'm thrilled to be a San Diego Charger," McCardell said in a statement released by his agent. "The Chargers are a great organization with a lot of young players and an outstanding head coach in Marty Schottenheimer. I also want to assure the Chargers that I've been working hard every day to stay in peak physical condition and I'm prepared to come in and make an immediate contribution. I could not be happier with this trade.

"I will miss my friends in Tampa Bay. I won a Super Bowl there and have a lot of great memories with the Bucs, but it was time to move on."

The timing couldn't have been better for the Bucs, either. Rookie Michael Clayton, who plays McCardell's flanker position, is coming off a career-high eight catches for 142 yards in Monday night's 28-21 loss at St. Louis.

Veteran Joe Jurevicius, who has not played in nearly a year after undergoing surgery on his knee and back, will return to practice Wednesday and is expected to play this week against the Bears. Free agent Joey Galloway, who has not played since tearing a groin muscle in the season opener, could return after the bye week.

"I think it's a good trade for the Buccaneers, only because of the players we have who are performing for us today," Allen said. "It's time for us to move on and we're looking forward to the future."

However, the Bucs haven't completely split ties with McCardell. Allen said the team intends to follow through with its grievance requesting McCardell return half of his $2-million signing bonus for voiding his contract.

In addition, McCardell is subject to fines totalling $1,067,360. He was fined $5,000 per day for missing 37 days of training camp and the preseason, a figure that reached $185,000. McCardell also has forfeited six game checks totalling $882,360, the pro-rated portion of his 2004 salary.

So who won in the holdout? "That's yet to be seen," Allen said. "Talking from an organizational standpoint, I'm not here to try and take people's signing bonuses back. ... It's an unfortunate situation."

[Last modified October 20, 2004, 06:18:10]

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