Originally created 03/16/04

Steussie, Garrett, Knight sign with Bucs



TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a decidedly different look on offense next season.

Veteran tackle Todd Steussie became the latest addition to an overhauled offensive line when he signed with the Bucs on Monday. The team also added backup quarterback Jason Garrett and cornerback Tom Knight.

Meanwhile, former Denver and Miami quarterback Brian Griese visited the team's training facility and met with coach Jon Gruden, who signed former Oakland Raiders running back Charlie Garner last week.

"He came in just to get to know everyone," Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said. "We've talked to his agent and he is going to take a few more trips, and then we'll see after we bring in some more quarterbacks, as well."

The team remains interested, too, in acquiring Dallas receiver Joey Galloway in a trade that would send estranged Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson to the Cowboys.

Johnson, who was deactivated for the final six games of last season because of differences with Gruden, has already agreed to a restructured contract with Dallas worth $20 million over four seasons.

But the proposed swap of highly paid receivers hasn't taken place because Tampa Bay hasn't been able to reach agreement on a restructured deal with Galloway, who has three years left on a seven-year, $42 million contract.

"We're going to have another conversation with his representatives ... and probably in the next day or two have a conversation with Joey to see what exactly he is looking for," Allen said.

"It is still a work in progress, but I do know Dallas would like to move forward in a trade one way or another. They would like to get Keyshawn in their offseason program. If it doesn't work out with Joey, then we'll substitute something else for compensation."

Steussie, a 10-year veteran, was released by Carolina last week. He spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Minnesota Vikings before moving to the Panthers in 2001 and helping them reach the Super Bowl two months ago.

The 33-year-old, two-time Pro Bowl selection has appeared and started in 173 games, including the postseason, and has missed just one game - Nov. 1, 1998 vs. Tampa Bay - since entering the NFL in 1994.

Steussie is the fourth offensive lineman signed by Tampa Bay since the start of the free agency period, joining former San Francisco tackle Derrick Deese, Oakland guard Matt Stinchcomb and Cincinnati guard Matt O'Dwyer.

"There was a very short list of places I wanted to go see, and this is the only trip I made," Stuessie said, adding that he didn't have any hard feelings about leaving Carolina, although the Panthers' Super Bowl loss did leave a sour taste in his mouth.

"The biggest thing is it left me wanting a whole lot more. That was one of the reasons I came down here. I wanted to go to a place that would allow me to win one more game than I won last year."

The Bucs were 10th overall in total offense last season, the highest ranking in franchise history. But they were 24th in rushing and had difficulty protecting quarterback Brad Johnson, who threw a league-high 570 passes.

Steussie and Deese have been left tackles. Gruden said both are open to the prospect on playing on the right side.

At the same time, the coach said the signings aren't intended as a message to incumbent starting right tackle Kenyatta Walker, who's struggled his first three seasons in the NFL.

"We've got a lot to decide between now and the opening of the season. ... This isn't anything else other than us trying to get better," Gruden said.

"Steussie's protected Brad Johnson in Minnesota. He was a key element of a Super Bowl drive last season. We're going to play the best five linemen. We expect it to be a very competitive, exciting training camp. I think that's what breeds real good, healthy offensive lines."

Garrett is a career backup who's made nine starts in 11 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. Knight has been a part-time starter in seven seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens.