1. Bucs

Tampa Bay Buccaneers hire Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan as offensive coordinator

Published Feb. 11, 2012

TAMPA — Josh Freeman will work with Eli Manning's position coach next season.

The Bucs hired Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan as offensive coordinator on Friday night.

Sullivan, 45, was the Giants receivers coach for six seasons before coaching quarterbacks the past two. Under Sullivan, Manning threw for 8,935 yards, culminating with a Super Bowl MVP performance in a 21-17 victory Sunday over the Patriots.

This past season, Manning was 359-for-589 with 29 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 92.9 rating, seventh in the league.

"We are very fortunate to add someone like Mike Sullivan to lead our offensive coaching staff," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "He is a man of character and a complete football coach who fits the kind of football team we're building here.

"His work with the Giants over the past eight seasons speaks for itself. Mike was an integral part of that team winning two Super Bowls in the last five years, and we look forward to him bringing that experience and expertise to our club."

Among the Bucs' priorities was to re-ignite Freeman. Last season, he threw 22 interceptions and 16 touchdowns as the Bucs went 4-12. In 2010, he led the Bucs to a 10-6 record, narrowly missing the playoffs while throwing 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.

"Coach Schiano called me with the good news," Freeman said in a text message. "I've yet to talk with (Sullivan), but I plan on talking to him later (Friday night) or (today)."

Before going to the Giants, Sullivan spent a year as defensive quality control coach with the Jaguars under current Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

After the Jags fired Coughlin in 2002, Sullivan spent one season in Jacksonville as an offensive assistant under Jack Del Rio.

The Bucs interviewed former Bears coordinator Ron Turner and former University of North Carolina coordinator John Shoop this week. Schiano wanted to interview Cardinals receivers coach John McNulty and Packers tight ends coach Ben McAdoo, but both requests were denied by their teams. Jimmy Raye was hired as a senior offensive assistant this week.

In addition to his work with Freeman, the Bucs hope Sullivan will have an impact on their young receivers, including Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn.

With New York, Sullivan helped develop Steve Smith and Plaxico Burress. In 2009, Smith set a team record with 107 catches. In four seasons under Sullivan, Burress caught 344 passes for 3,681 yards and 33 touchdowns.

After Sullivan became quarterbacks coach, Manning set a career high with 25 interceptions. But he passed for 4,002 yards and a career-high 31 touchdowns. That prompted him to insist he wasn't a 25-interception-a-year quarterback and he belonged in the same elite class as the Pat­riots' Tom Brady.

Manning proved it Sunday by beating Brady in a Super Bowl for the second time in five seasons.

Report: Gronkowski has surgery on ankle

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England tight end Rob Gronkowski had arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle, various media outlets reported. He is expected to be ready for spring workouts. The Patriots declined comment, and messages left for his representatives were not returned. Gronkowski, who set an NFL record for tight ends with 17 touchdown catches, sustained a high ankle sprain during the AFC title game. In the Super Bowl, he was limited to two catches for 26 yards.

Ward reportedly out: The Steelers will release receiver Hines Ward to save $4 million against the salary cap, the NFL Network reported. Last season, his 14th with the team, Ward had 46 catches for 381 yards and two touchdowns. All represented his fewest since his rookie season. Pittsburgh previously restructured the deals of cornerback Ike Taylor and linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley.

Bengals: Linebacker Rey Maualuga was charged with misdemeanor assault stemming from an incident at a Cincinnati bar Sunday. A bar employee alleges Maualuga punched him. An arraignment is set for Feb. 17.

49ers: General manager Trent Baalke signed a three-year extension through 2016.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.