Bucs re-sign QB McCown

Updated: February 9, 2009, 7:23 PM ET
By Pat Yasinskas | ESPN.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may already have their quarterback of the future, after all.

McCown
McCown

Luke McCown, who could have become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the month, has been re-signed by the Buccaneers, the team announced Monday afternoon. With the new regime of coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik taking over, this could be a sign that the Bucs are going to give McCown a shot at the starting job.

That's something former coach Jon Gruden never did with McCown or any young quarterback, and his failure to develop a long-term plan was part of the reason he was fired in January.

McCown received a $2.5 million signing bonus and a $2.5 million base in 2009, a source told ESPN.com's John Clayton. His base salary in 2010 is $2.5 million, but there are incentives that could take the deal to $7 million a year if he plays a lot next season. Regardless of whether he plays or doesn't play, the $5 million commitment the Bucs made to McCown, who has only four career starts, shows they are making some changes in the quarterback position.

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McCown, 27, doesn't have as much mileage as guys who started for Gruden in recent years like Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese and Brad Johnson. He's appeared in only five games since joining the NFL in 2004, but many personnel people around the league believe he has upside.

McCown spent much of last year as the official No. 2 quarterback behind Garcia. But Gruden surprised many and may have sealed his own fate by jumping No. 3 quarterback Brian Griese into the lineup when Garcia had a late-season injury. The Bucs lost their final four games and finished out of the playoffs.

Garcia's future in Tampa Bay appears very shaky with the re-signing of McCown. Although Garcia performed well at times over the past two years, the team has hinted it wants to get younger at quarterback. Garcia, 39, is scheduled to become a free agent and the Bucs likely will let him test the waters.

Griese remains under contract and the Bucs also have a project in Josh Johnson, whom Gruden drafted last year.

"Luke McCown is a talented and athletic quarterback who we have gotten to know well over the last four years," Morris said. "I know he is looking forward to the opportunity to be an integral part of our quarterback group this season."

Pat Yasinskas covers the AFC South for ESPN.com. ESPN.com's John Clayton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter