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Bucs' Lovie Smith sees Josh McCown as leader, mentor

TAMPA — Coach Lovie Smith's anointing of new Bucs signee Josh McCown as his starting quarterback is tough news for incumbent starter Mike Glennon, but GM Jason Licht said Thursday that the second-year passer should benefit from having a veteran to learn from.

"What better person to have here to help Mike Glennon develop than Josh McCown?" Licht said. "We win on both ends. That's the way we're looking at it. Any quarterback who would be here would benefit from Josh. (McCown) is eager because he's naturally a mentor on and off the field, with anybody he comes across."

Licht said that Smith has been in communication with Glennon, 24, in recent days as the signing of McCown unfolded. Glennon, a third-round draft pick last year out of N.C. State, started 13 games as a rookie after the team released Josh Freeman, setting franchise rookie records with 19 touchdowns and 2,608 yards. Because McCown, 34, has started more than nine games in a season just once — 13 in 2004 for Arizona — his career highs are 13 touchdowns (last season in Chicago) and 2,511 yards (in 2004).

On Thursday, Smith was once again unequivocal in showing his confidence in McCown as a starting quarterback and team leader. McCown played two seasons in Chicago as a backup under Smith in 2011-12 and was an obvious choice for Smith as he sought a veteran quarterback to lead the Bucs.

"Josh is exactly what you're looking for in a leader, to get that 4-12 taste out of our mouth," Smith said.

And while Smith has familiarity and trust in McCown, his history as an NFL coach has not been to turn to veterans at quarterback. In 144 games as an NFL head coach, Smith has had only 10 games where his starting QB is age 30 or older, and all with backups pressed into duty.

"From Day 1, we've been transparent about our goal to get a veteran, seasoned quarterback on this roster that's playing his best, and that's Josh McCown," Licht said.

DIFFERENT WORLD: McCown will make at least $10 million in two years with the team, but just four years ago, he was playing for the Hartford Colonials of the now-defunct United Football League. He turned down an offer to join Smith in Chicago because he had committed to the UFL, but it wasn't easy.

"I don't want to make it sound like I'm some super-faithful guy. Every inch of the way in Hartford, I was like, 'What was I thinking?' " he said. "The bus breaks down going to practice, I'm like, 'Oh, my gosh.' You go to the equipment room and say, 'Hey, I need a pair of shorts.' They say, 'Well, there's a Dick's Sporting Goods down the road.' It was a different experience, but I treasure it."

Not Everyone: It might seem like it, but the Bucs aren't getting every free agent they target. WR Ted Ginn, who visited the team Wednesday, signed a three-year deal with the Cardinals, and Panthers DB Captain Munnerlyn, who was to visit with Tampa Bay, signed a three-year deal with the Vikings.

Josh McCown

Josh McCown

Bucs' Lovie Smith sees Josh McCown as leader, mentor 03/13/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 10:35pm]
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