Thursday, June 24, 2010

Michael Clayton's Ticket Out Of Town

Stephen Holder has a good write up about wide receiver Reggie Brown whom the Buccaneers acquired via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles:

"I’ve been impressed with Reggie Brown in how he carries himself like a pro," Bucs receivers coach Eric Yarber said. "Early on in camp and OTAs, he got a lot of looks and caught a lot of balls. Right now, you might not see the flash.

"But as a coaching staff, we see it on film. He’s open a lot. He just hasn’t gotten the opportunity to make plays. But he brings a veteran savvy to our group with know-how. I’ve told a lot of the guys to watch how he prepares and how he runs routes."

The Bucs never promised Brown would duplicate the performances he turned in during his best seasons with the Eagles. Truth is, they'd be happy if he was a marginal contributor given what they gave up for him. At the same time, no one is ruling out a bigger contribution. And it seems like Brown will definitely get the chance. Whereas with the Eagles he became an afterthought during the past two seasons, the Bucs have such an inexperienced group of receivers that the position is wide open.

"He’s a guy who runs really good routes and has really good hands," coach Raheem Morris said. "The knock on him when he came out was that he made some dynamic catches and dropped some easy ones. But since he’s been here, he’s made the dynamic catches but he’s also been catching the easy ones. He’s also been very productive after the catch.

Now I'm the first person to counsel against people falling in love with players during the spring. Football is played in pads, not shorts and so you always have to take the OTA and mini camp performances with a grain of salt.

Having said that, with Brown impressing the coaching staff the wide receiver position is set up to play out just the way I figured it would. Its one thing to say a guy is showing up, its another to say you are using him as an example for other receivers on the team to emulate. And with Brown doing his thing the end result will almost inevitably be Michael Clayton not making the roster. Of course several things could change that, most notably injuries. But other than that I can't see a path for Clayton to be on the team come the fall.

Look don't mistake my blunt honesty with gloating either. I've never met Clayton but I hear he's a good guy. And he may even make another team a good receiver at some point. But resigning him last year for that money was a fools errand. Keeping him after the season he had at this point would be egregious. I know he works hard, I know he blocks well but receivers are paid to catch the ball. Period. And in the one area that he is supposed to be relied on he has not done his job since his rookie season.

On the other hand it won't be his lack of production that does him in, if he is done in, this year. Instead it will be a little thing we call special teams.

Lets go by the numbers. First its a given that three players will be on the team, they are the two draft picks from this year Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams, along with last year's rookie sensation Sammie Stroughter. From there you have Maurice Stovall who didn't exactly set the world on fire as a receiver but still ended up with better stats than Clayton. But the thing about Stovall is that he is a key part of our special teams units.

All of them.

If he isn't running down as a flyer on the punt team, he's leading up as a blocker on kickoff return. And he's not just a guy out there. He's pretty damn good at his job.

Add into the mix Reggie Brown whom evidently had a good offseason as well at receiver. But you know what Brown was doing the last two years when his numbers fell off and the Eagles replaced him?

Busting his ass on special teams.

So that's five receivers right there. Out of whom is left you have Clayton along with two guys who should get at last a shot as our primary return men in the kicking game, Michael Spurlock and Preston Parker.

If you're a GM and your choices for the last wide receiver spot are two young cheap guys who can possibly be return men for you or a guy who hasn't played special teams for you in the past, hasn't produced in years and is scheduled to make millions of dollars who would you choose?

I guess Clayton could become the second coming of Kenny "The Shark" Gant in training camp and just blow people away running down on kickoff but I just can't envision that happening. And so if Brown stays healthy and continues to perform both at receiver and on special teams its likely we have seen the last of Clayton in a Bucs uniform in a meaningful game.

It is what it is.


  1. Steve, an excellent post as usual. You've thought it through and come to an undeniable conclusion. The Bucs have to cut bait with Clayton because, as you point out, there is no conceivable benefit in keeping him around.

    On another note, nice to see the new blog design, looks a lot fresher and more modern. Would be great to see a less grainy, sharper pic of you destroying a QB at the top though :)

  2. great post. could have done without the last line, though.

  3. @Warthog and @Anthony

    Thanks for the compliments!