Colts acquire Bucs' McFarland for second-round pick

Updated: October 19, 2006, 1:08 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts think they've found their Super Bowl link -- again.

Anthony McFarland
McFarland

For the second time in less than 14 months, the Colts brought in a bulky defensive tackle to stop the run, this time trading a 2007 second-round draft choice to Tampa Bay for Anthony McFarland.

"It's disappointing to be leaving a place where you have so many friends, but I'm excited to be going to a 5-0 team that's in the hunt for everything you play for in this game," McFarland said.

The Colts announced the deal about one hour after Tuesday's trading deadline, but spokesman Craig Kelley said team officials would have no additional comment until Wednesday.

Clayton's take
The Colts had been calling around for 24 hours for help at defensive tackle. During the final hour leading to Tuesday's trade deadline, Chris Polian of the Colts checked in with Bucs general manager Bruce Allen, and the Anthony McFarland trade to the Colts went down -- almost accidentally.

To read more of John Clayton's Quick Hits, click here. Insider

McFarland, a 6-foot, 300-pound defensive tackle, should help reinforce the middle of the Colts' leaky run defense, which ranks last in the NFL. In five games this season, Indianapolis has allowed 166.8 yards per game.

The Colts thought they fixed that problem last year after signing former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Corey Simon to a lucrative contract. Philadelphia released him near the end of the preseason because of a contract dispute.

Simon's presence solidified the Colts' defense last year, but he had arthroscopic surgery on his knee in mid-August and was placed on the non-football illness-injury list Oct. 5. He will miss the rest of the season with an undisclosed illness that team president Bill Polian said was unrelated to the knee injury.

McFarland is expected to produce quickly in Indy, where he will be the biggest defensive lineman on the roster.

Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen said other teams expressed interest in making deals, but not involving McFarland.

"We had discussions with other teams trying to acquire players," Allen said. "The Colts were the one team interested in Anthony McFarland. I'm sure it has to do with Corey Simon being out for the season."

McFarland already is familiar with both the cover-2 defense Indy runs and coach Tony Dungy, whom he played under his first three NFL seasons.

McFarland said the two have already spoken and that he welcomed the opportunity to play again for Dungy.

"We welcome the results to give Anthony an opportunity to get reunited with coach Dungy, a man he truly respects not just as a coach but as a man," said McFarland's agent, Karl Bernard. "We think Tony felt the same way because he gave up a second-round pick."

McFarland had been a significant force throughout most of his eight seasons with the Bucs, who selected him with the 15th overall pick in the 1999 draft. In 84 career starts, he had 305 tackles and 20 sacks but only 13 tackles in five games this season.

Last week, Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden criticized McFarland and the Bucs' other defensive linemen, saying he expected more from them and some in Tampa thought McFarland was underachieving. Allen avoided that topic.

"We'll let people speculate somewhat. ... He's been involved in our organization for a long time," Allen said. "So from that standpoint, it was a trade with a heavy heart."

Tampa Bay was expected to be one of the NFC's top teams heading into the season, but it started 0-4 before beating Cincinnati 14-13 Sunday for its first win. The poor start also had another effect, apparently making McFarland expendable.

McFarland said he leaves the Bucs with no bitterness and no sense that he was being made a scapegoat -- only disappointment that he can't win a second Super Bowl with the team that brought him into the league.

"We won a Super Bowl and were working to try to win another. From that standpoint it's disappointing that you won't be around to try to help get that done," he said. "At the same time, this is a good opportunity for me and I'm looking forward to it."

In Indy, McFarland will play alongside the most productive sack combination in the league during the past two seasons, defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

Bernard believes McFarland will make a seamless transition to a familiar defense and expects McFarland to practice with the Colts on Wednesday.

"I think any time you have a high-caliber player where his ability fits a team's need, he would make a quick impact," Bernard said. "We're hoping it's the missing piece to the puzzle."

Meanwhile, the Bucs moved immediately to fill McFarland's roster spot by signing veteran cornerback Phillip Buchanon, who less than 24 hours before was released by the Houston Texans.

Buchanon, a former first-round draft choice, signed a one-year contract with the Bucs late Tuesday afternoon.

The deal reunites Buchanon with Allen, who was a top executive in Oakland's front office when the Raiders chose Buchanan with the 17th overall selection in the 2002 draft. The short-term contract will provide Buchanon the opportunity to perhaps regain the form of his early career, when it appeared that he was emerging as one of the league's top young cornerbacks, and then enter the unrestricted free agent market next spring.

"How the coaches fit him in, we'll see. But we wanted to make sure we had some depth there," said Allen. "It's the reason we claimed Derrick Strait a week ago. We wanted to make sure we had some depth with someone with experience.

"His statistics really stand out. Having seven touchdowns as a non-offensive player is really impressive."

Tampa Bay officials have been seeking to add a veteran corner and had worked the phones over the last few days in trade discussions with other clubs. But it's believed the Bucs never came close to making a deal for a cornerback and, when Buchanon became available Monday evening, they focused on him.

Bucs starting cornerback Brian Kelly, who the team had been shopping in casual trade talks, has missed three games with "turf toe." And nickel corner Juran Bolden, despite not missing any games, played hurt through the first month of the season.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.