TAMPA — If the Bucs played today, Reggie Brown might be their No. 2 receiver.
That might say something about the lack of receiving talent on the roster, but it explains why general manager Mark Dominik traded a sixth-round pick in 2011 to the Eagles for Brown.
The sixth-year pro out of Georgia had only 27 catches and one touchdown over the past two seasons, though he had some nice moments, including two catches for 64 yards against the Falcons last year.
The Bucs think a change of scenery will help Brown, 29, recapture the talents that enabled him to lead the Eagles in receiving yards (816) and touchdowns (nine) in his second season.
In fact, the Eagles felt highly enough of Brown to sign him to a five-year, $27 million extension in 2006. When the deal was announced, Eagles coach Andy Reid called Brown "one of the hardest workers on our football team."
What happened after that was a series of injuries and some shrewd drafting by the Eagles.
Brown lost his job to rookie DeSean Jackson two years ago. Then last season, the Eagles drafted another explosive receiver in Jeremy Maclin, who started as a rookie while Jason Avant won the job as the slot receiver.
What hurt Brown was his inability to play special teams. Fourth receivers don't play many snaps, so they must contribute in other ways to be among the active 47 players on Sunday.
Brown's pride was hurt by being inactive in several games last season. He is quiet by nature, Dominik said. He is a good route runner, but he's not going to give the Bucs anything on special teams or as a blocker in the running game.
Because the 2011 draft likely won't be deep, a sixth-rounder is not much to give up for Brown.
"We're excited to add a guy who was a productive player in the NFL at the receiver position when he had an opportunity to play," Dominik said. "We always look in any avenue, whether it's free agency or a trade or a waiver claim, find a way to upgrade the talent of our roster, and with this trade, we feel like we did."
The Bucs are going to take some shots for not spending much in free agency this season.
But it's hard to argue with Dominik's track record in trades. Although many of these moves were scrutinized at the time, they've mostly worked out.
Start with the trade of a second-round draft choice in 2009 and a fifth-rounder in 2010 to the Browns for tight end Kellen Winslow. Although he had a history of knee injuries, Winslow played in all 16 games last season and led the Bucs with 77 catches 884 yards and five touchdowns.
The Bucs dealt defensive end Gaines Adams to the Bears for a second-round pick in 2010, which turned out to be 42nd overall. Adams played in 10 games for the Bears but had no starts, no sacks, seven tackles and one forced fumble.
The Bucs traded tight end Alex Smith to New England for a fifth-rounder in 2010. The Patriots released him.
They dealt quarterback Luke McCown to the Jaguars for a seventh-rounder. McCown played in three games, going 1-of-3 for 2 yards last season.
Finally, the Bucs traded their first- and sixth-round picks last year to the Browns to move up two spots in the first round, and they selected quarterback Josh Freeman with the 17th overall choice.
Freeman, who started nine games as a rookie, looks as if he has a chance to become a franchise quarterback.
Dominik can only hope the Brown trade helps make that happen.
Rick Stroud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.