- Christopher Harris, Fantasy
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took an admittedly smallish step toward reinvigorating their receiving corps Monday evening by trading a sixth-round pick in the April 2011 draft to the Philadelphia Eagles for Reggie Brown. Brown, who was buried behind DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant on the Philly depth chart, suddenly becomes a candidate to be the Bucs' No. 1 receiver, at least at the moment.
Tampa Bay seems to have no intention of retaining Antonio Bryant, whom they slapped with their franchise tag in advance of the 2009 season, but whom they deemed unworthy of that tag for '10 (as it would've once again guaranteed Bryant north of $10 million). It's still possible that the Bucs could match another team's offer to Bryant, but indications have been that they won't. This move to acquire Brown seems to back up that sentiment.
Of course, Brown is actually nobody's idea of an actual No. 1 receiver. A second-round pick in '05, Brown has 27 catches and one touchdown the past two seasons combined. Not really a burner and not someone who grabs everything thrown his way, he's probably a starting possession receiver on a subpar offense, which the Bucs' certainly is. But if Bryant is really out of the picture, consider Brown's competition: Maurice Stovall, a big guy who can't run away from anyone and has 43 catches in four seasons; Michael Clayton, a good blocker who can't stay healthy and has failed to eclipse 40 catches in any of the past five seasons since his 80-grab rookie year; and Sammie Stroughter, an undersized seventh-rounder from '08 who's got the makings of a good player, but only out of the slot.
You'd have to believe that the Bucs aren't done, that they'll try to add more veteran talent for Josh Freeman to throw to. As things stand, Kellen Winslow is still clearly the most valuable fantasy option on this offense. But if the team stands pat, or drafts a receiver and keeps the veterans it currently has, Brown could actually enter the fantasy conversation again as a rather deep sleeper. As of this moment, the trade out of Philly bumps him up well into the top 100 of my wide receiver list.
In other news: The Pittsburgh Steelers reunited with old friend Antwaan Randle El, who parlayed his '05 championship season into a big contract with the Washington Redskins but was never a consistent fantasy factor in D.C. He'll be 31 in August and isn't as quick as the last time he wore black and gold, but he'll probably play some out of the slot this season. The bigger news, really, is the condemnation this appears to be of the Steelers' former second-rounder Limas Sweed, who now sits fifth on the team's depth chart and could find himself cut soon. The Cleveland Browns traded an undisclosed draft pick to the Seattle Seahawks for Seneca Wallace, and then released Derek Anderson. Now Wallace, a Mike Holmgren favorite from their days together in Seattle, becomes a viable alternative should Brady Quinn falter. At this point, neither guy should be much of a fantasy factor, but stranger things have happened. As for the Seahawks, they're left with '09 sixth-rounder Mike Teel as their only signal-caller behind Matt Hasselbeck, just one more indication that they'll probably take a quarterback at some point in April's draft.
Christopher Harris is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner. You can ask him questions at www.facebook.com/writerboy.
Christopher Harris looks at the fantasy implications of Reggie Brown signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.