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Carter intrigues Bucs
On the day TE Anthony Becht signs, Jon Gruden says QB Quincy Carter, who has been suspected of drug use, could be a good fit here.
By ROGER MILLS
Published March 16, 2005
TAMPA - If free-agent quarterback Quincy Carter can help them go places, the Bucs might be willing to bring him aboard, regardless of his baggage.
Still seeking an experienced backup quarterback, coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday he is intrigued by the idea of signing the troubled Carter, a former Cowboys starter who was cut a month before the start of the 2004 season because of reported substance abuse issues.
Carter arrived in Tampa on Tuesday night and had dinner with personnel executive Doug Williams and former Bucs tight end Jimmie Giles at Lee Roy Selmon's. He's expected to visit One Buc Place today.
"Here's a guy who has some well-documented history in the league as a player, and he's had some off-the-field problems," Gruden said. "But we have an interesting environment here for a quarterback with (new quarterbacks coach) Paul Hackett, I have coached the quarterbacks and Doug Williams is here. ... You want to bring in the best players available and he's clearly, in my opinion, one of the best players available at that position."
After the Cowboys' move, Carter denied reports that he tested positive for cocaine. At the time of his release, he told the Dallas Morning News that such reports were "ridiculous."
Carter, 27, was a second-round pick of the Cowboys in 2001 and led Dallas to a playoff appearance in 2003. He was picked up by the Jets in late August and started three games.
But the week before the playoff game against the Steelers, Carter left the Jets, and the Associated Press and other news organizations reported he checked into a rehab center.
In 2004, the former Georgia standout was 35-of-58 for 498 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
On the day the team officially signed tight end Anthony Becht, who also played for the Jets, it seemed the Bucs were not done fine-tuning the quarterback rotation.
Along with Carter, the Bucs are looking at veterans Doug Flutie and Jeff Blake. Gruden indicated his preference would be to have a veteran signed before quarterback camp, March 29-31.
"There's a lot to learn," Gruden said. "We want to get these guys in here."
Gruden would not rule out the possibility of the taking either California's Aaron Rodgers or Utah's Alex Smith, the draft's top-rated quarterbacks, with the No. 5 pick overall. He plans to attend the personal workouts of both players this week.
Though drafting a tight end remains possible, the Bucs are giddy about adding Becht.
"We weren't just looking for a pass receiver, we were looking for a guy that can block, not only the running plays, but the passing plays," Gruden said. "And when you throw him the ball, he does catch it. He has the ability to be an all-purpose tight end, and we're very happy to have him on our football team."
Described as a bruising blocker who can make catches, Becht, 27, said he was intrigued by the opportunity to start and to show his pass-catching abilities.
"The chances and opportunities will be there for me," Becht said. "I was watching a little tape from last year, and I think they had 58 catches as a unit. That's probably 70, 75 or 80 balls thrown in their vicinity. There are going to be some opportunities. I'm going to take advantage of it."
In other news, Gruden said if the season started today Jeb Terry would start at right guard for the departed Cosey Coleman. The Bucs also could use center/guard Sean Mahan on the right side.
With the departure of strongside linebacker Ian Gold to Denver, Gruden said former starters Ryan Nece and Jeff Gooch, along with second-year player Marquis Cooper, will get a chance to earn the starting position.
Fullback Jameel Cook, expected to share time with Mike Alstott, has agreed to terms on a new one-year deal and is expected to make it official today.
"He is very pleased with what they were able to do for him and he's ecstatic about coming back to Tampa," agent Alonzo Shavers said. "Tampa is home for him. It's been where he played his entire career and it's where he wanted to be."
Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.