Receiver recovering from injury-plagued season
Having spent the past week visiting relatives in the Seattle area, a carry-over from his meeting with Seattle Seahawks coaches and team officials, Joe Jurevicius decided he liked the area well enough to live there -- at least for the next year.
The seven-year veteran wide receiver signed a one-year contract Friday afternoon, the financial details of which were not immediately available. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released Jurevicius three weeks ago, for salary cap reasons, but had hoped to re-sign the unrestricted free agent to a more palatable contract.
Jurevicius, who is coming off an injury-plagued season, drew solid interest from several other teams. However, it became obvious over the past several days that the Seahawks had become the front-runners for his services.
Part of Seattle's attraction for Jurevicius was the hiring of Tim Ruskell as president of football operations last month. Ruskell, who most recently served as assistant general manager of the Atlanta Falcons, was director of player personnel in Tampa Bay when Jurevicius signed with the Bucs as a free agent in 2002.
"He is a selfless player who understands what it takes to win in this league," Ruskell said in a news release.
Jurevicius, 30, likely will assume the No. 4 wide receiver role held last season by Jerry Rice. He could challenge Bobby Engram, a strong but often unheralded slot receiver, for the third spot behind projected starters Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson. Jurevicius gives the Seahawks insurance in the event Robinson is unable to overcome the off-field problems that dogged him through the 2004 season.
The Seahawks also had met with free-agent wide receiver Jerome Pathon, who was recently cut by the New Orleans Saints, and discussed the possibility of trading for Rod Gardner of the Washington Redskins. Securing Jurevicius likely ends those pursuits.
A former standout at Penn State, Jurevicius spent the past three seasons with the Bucs, after a four-year stint with the New York Giants, who selected him in the second round of the 1998 draft. He has registered 178 catches for 2,316 yards and 13 touchdowns during his career. His best season was in 2001 when Jurevicius posted 51 catches for 706 yards with the Giants.
Jurevicius was vital to the Bucs' capturing Super Bowl XXXVII. That postseason, he caught eight passes for 197 yards, including a 71-yard reception in the NFC championship game win at Philadelphia. Jurevicius infant son, Michael, became seriously ill in the days leading up to that game and died three months later.
During the past two seasons, Jurevicius battled through knee and back injuries, both of which required surgery. In 2003-04, he appeared in just 15 games and started only five. The Seahawks feel, however, that he is almost fully recovered and ready to contribute to their passing game in 2005.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .