Bucs re-sign QB Luke McCown
Luke McCown was told he would finally get a real shot to be the Bucs starting quarterback.
That's all he needed to hear.
The Bucs announced Monday they had re-signed McCown, who decided to forgo his chance to become a free agent in order to return to the team.
McCown signed a two-year, $7.5-million contract that will guarantee him $5-million in 2009. The deal nearly identical to the one signed in 2007 by quarterback Jeff Garcia.
McCown, 27, said he received assurances from coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik that he would compete for the starting job and that they saw him as a long-term answer to their quarterback puzzle.
Anything short of that and McCown said he likely would've tested the free agent market when the signing period begins Feb. 27.
"It was made clear to me over the process, over the weekend and today, that I was going to get a shot to compete to be the starter and the leader of this team and that's all I asked for and I'm excited for that chance,'' McCown said.
The signing of McCown also means the Bucs may not be interested in re-signing Garcia, who is set to become a free agent. Brian Griese and rookie Josh Johnson are the only other two quarterbacks under contract.
McCown said he was unaware of which, if any quarterbacks, the Bucs planned for him to compete with next season.
"I was looking for somebody, be it Mark or Raheem -- and it turned out it was both -- to show that confidence in me, that they were willing to give me a chance, that they see the potential I have to be a starter and not just a guy to hold down the position but lead the team for a couple of years,' McCown said. "That's what I was looking for, someone to show me that support, and once I saw that, it was a no brainer for me.''
In many ways, McCown seemed miscast in Jon Gruden's version of the west coast offense. Generally regarded as one of the best athletes on the team, he has a strong arm and can drive the football down the field.
But in four seasons with the Bucs, McCown played in just seven games with three starts -- all of them coming in 2007.
He completed 94-of-140 passes (67.1 percent) for 1,009 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions for a quarterback rating of 91.0. McCown's athleticism also enabled him to carry the ball 15 times for 132 yards, an 8.8 yard average.
But when Garcia was unable to play in a critical game at Atlanta last December, Gruden bypassed McCown in favor of Griese, a decision that contributed to the Bucs' four-game losing streak to end the season.
"Very surprised. Very disappointed,'' McCown said of not playing against the Falcons. "But I'm not one, again, that would sit and throw my hands in the air and say, "I quit,' or complain,'' McCown said. "That wasn't right at the time and to me that's not right ever. You go with the hand you were dealt. I know there were several of my teammates after the game, some of them captains on this team, that asked me, "What was the deal? Why didn't you get to play?' I said, "I don't know. Nobody really told me why.''
Under new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, McCown said he believes the Bucs will run a hybrid version of the west coast offense with more emphasis on a downfield passing attack.
"There's no question in my mind, I'm ready to compete,'' McCown said. "I didn't bother to ask who, if anybody else, they were targeting (at quarterback). That didn't matter to me. I'm going to do everything I can to be the leader of this team and take us back to the playoffs. I think my teammates know that. I think everybody knows I just needed a chance.''