Clayton Spurns Hawks for Bucs

Pewter Report has the scoop -- the Bucs have re-signed receiver Michael Clayton to a new five-year contract. The interesting part of the story is that Clayton turned down more money from Seattle to stay in Tampa Bay.

I'm not sure how much money Clayton got, the deal being very new and all, but this seems to be to be as good a bullet-dodge as there is, and yet another ding in my opinion of Tim Ruskell's ability to evaluate receivers. Clayton hasn't posted a positive DVOA since his rookie season of 2004, has been outplayed by Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard and Antonio Bryant in the last few seasons, and isn't even a lock to start despite the new deal. And Tampa Bay's receiver situation isn't much better than Seattle's - Pewter Report also mentions that a certain Mr. T.J. Whosyourmama will visit Tampa in the near future.

Sometimes, you succeed by not getting what you think you want. This, I suspect, is an example of that particular phenomenon.

UPDATE: According to the St. Petersburg Times, Clayton got five years, $10.5 million guaranteed, and as much as $26 million based on certain incentives. Here's an intresting wrinkle:

Tampa Bay's 2004 first-round pick agreed to terms on a five-year contract with the Bucs, who stepped in with a lucrative deal just as Clayton was preparing to make a free agent visit to Seattle. He was 90 minutes from boarding a flight Saturday when the Bucs called and the sides struck an agreement in principle.

Again, ***whew***. Now, "free-agent visit" doesn't sound like an offer of more money than Tampa Bay was offering, unless the Seahawks had to promise to up the ante just to get Clayton on the plane. Pewter Report isn't generally wrong, but I really hope they are this time.

And as far as what the market will bear, consider that the Lions just signed former Cardinals and 49ers receiver Bryant Johnson to a three-year, $9 million deal. Not that Johnson would be some great fit for Seattle - he's pretty much a straight-line guy. But both Johnson and Clayton were disappointing first round picks -- Johnson in 2003 and Clayton in 2004, and there's very little difference in career production even when you include Clayton's outlier of a rookie season:

Per-season averages:

Johnson: 43 catches, 537 yards, 2 TD
Clayton: 41 catches, 541 yards, 1.8 TD

If the Bucs want to overpay for limited production at the wide receiver position, that's their problem -- actually, it's been their problem for a very long time. But if Ruskell, who was obviously part of that problem in Tampa Bay, hasn't learned from those mistakes, there's trouble in the Emerald City.

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