Bucs fit Becht into tight salary cap

Updated: March 14, 2005, 9:25 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Unrestricted tight end Anthony Becht, one of the hottest players of late in the free agent market, on Monday night reached a contract agreement with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ESPN.com has learned.

Anthony Becht
Tight End
New York Jets
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
13 100 1 7.7 19 60

The Bucs had been pursuing Becht aggressively since he visited for two days last week with Tampa Bay coaches and team officials. There was considerable interest from other teams as well, with Becht scheduled for a Tuesday visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and also being courted by the New York Jets, the franchise with which he entered the league.

Becht was impressed with the Bucs, however, and the role that coach Jon Gruden laid out for him, and decided not to make other trips. Then it was up to the Bucs to figure a way to fit him into their very tight salary cap situation.

"When he left there last week, he knew it was exactly where he wanted to be," said agent Cliff Brady on Monday night. "But they have an absolutely horrible cap situation and so both sides had to be very creative. It's a good fit, though, for him, no doubt about it."

Brady said his client, who flew to Tampa on Monday night, will sign a multiyear deal that includes "voidables." He did not disclose financial parameters of the contract, which likely will be signed on Tuesday.

The five-year veteran is coming off his most unproductive season in 2004, a campaign in which he had career lows in receptions (13), yards (100) and touchdowns (one). There were, however, some mitigating circumstances. Among them: an injury to quarterback Chad Pennington, less use in general of the tight end by Jets coaches, and playing rarely in third-down situations.

For his career, Becht, 27, has 133 receptions for 1,164 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has three seasons of 25 catches or more and his best year came in 2002, when he posted 40 catches for 356 yards and four touchdowns. The former West Virginia standout, who has played in 78 games and started 72 of them, is a solid receiver in the red zone.

The Tampa Bay starting tight end from 2004, veteran Ken Dilger, is currently testing the unrestricted free agent market. The Bucs remain interested in re-signing him, but there are no guarantees of that. Another tight end, Rickey Dudley, is also a free agent. Gruden loves to have plenty of tight ends on the roster and often uses formations that feature multiple tight ends.

There is no small degree of irony in Becht's decision to sign in Tampa Bay.

Becht was one of four first-round draft picks of the Jets in the 2000 draft. The choice used by the Jets to select him was gained from the Bucs in a trade that sent wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson to Tampa Bay. Also, the new quarterbacks coach for the Bucs is Paul Hackett, who was the offensive coordinator in New York for four of Becht's five years with the team.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.