By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 18, 2001
TAMPA -- In 1997, the Bucs liked what they saw in receiver Reidel Anthony. They made him their first-round draft pick and signed him to a six-year, $7.3-million contract that included a $1.8-million signing bonus.
Times have changed.
Anthony, whose first two seasons were promising but whose productivity slipped considerably over the past two, has restructured his deal and taken a pay cut to stay with the team.
Anthony said the revamped contract is not an extension and described it as a "good-faith gesture" on his part. Terms were not released by the Bucs. Anthony's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did not return phone calls.
According to salary figures produced by the players association, Anthony originally was scheduled to make more than $700,000 this season. His new compensation will be around $450,000, close to the minimum for a fifth-year player.
"I just want to play football. I really don't pay a lot of attention to the money," said Anthony, who said he signed the contract without scrutinizing it. "I don't get caught up in that stuff. I'm out here working as hard as possible to get better, and whatever happens, happens. I'm just trying to play good ball this year. If I play here or somewhere else, at least I've got some film and I'm doing what they are asking me to do."
In '97, Anthony showed glimpses of becoming an impact player. He started 13 of 16 regular-season games and had 35 catches for 448 yards and 4 touchdowns. He followed with 51 catches for 708 yards and 7 touchdowns.
In 1999, Anthony struggled with injuries, a suspension for violating team rules and losing about $1-million to his former agent, William "Tank" Black. He had 30 catches, 296 yards and 1 touchdown.
During the off-season, the Bucs acquired Keyshawn Johnson to start alongside Jacquez Green, moving Anthony to the bench. Anthony had 15 catches for 232 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Because of Anthony's declining productivity and his high original price, the Bucs this year were faced with keeping him at his original price, restructuring his deal or releasing him.
"I know for me it's a good-faith sign just for me agreeing to it," Anthony said of the pay cut. "Hopefully (I'll get) the same respect from them."
- Staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.