Tampa Bay shored up its veteran depth on Monday night, signing former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter to a one-year contract.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s believed to be a bit more than the league minimum for a 10-year veteran, which is $750,000.
Trotter visited Tampa Bay last week after the Eagles released him. Omar Gaither had overtaken Trotter for the starting middle linebacker position with the Eagles, prompting them to make a move.
Trotter was to make about $9 million in base salary in Philadelphia through the life of that contract, which would have ended after the 2009 season.
Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden said last week that Barrett Ruud is firmly entrenched as the starter at middle linebacker. If so, that would mean Trotter, 30, is signing to be Ruud’s immediate backup. He could also help the Buccaneers on special teams.
Trotter had good things to say about the Buccaneers when he arrived at Tampa International Airport on Monday afternoon.
“I think it’s a good fit,” Trotter told a reporter from Tampa’s NBC affiliate. “It seems like there’s a good chemistry in that locker room. I talked to Jeff (Garcia, a teammate of Trotter’s last year in Philadelphia) and he filled me in.”
To make room for Trotter, the Buccaneers released wide receiver Taye Biddle, whom the Bucs signed on Sunday. Tampa Bay also announced the signing of wide receiver Michael Spurlock to the practice squad.
The 6-foot-1, 262-pounder from Stephen F. Austin State University is a four-time Pro Bowl selection, most recently following the 2005 season.
He has recorded 100 tackles or more in seven of his nine NFL seasons, including 2006 when he notched 161 tackles starting all 16 games for the Eagles.
He was entering the fourth year of his second stint in Philadelphia before his release. He returned to the Eagles before the 2004 season after two fairly productive seasons with the Washington Redskins. But Trotter was released after the 2003 season as he didn’t fit into the new defensive philosophy of new head coach Joe Gibbs.
Trotter went back to Philly, where he got his start as a rookie in 1998, after contacting Eagles head coach Andy Reid by cell phone as the coach was on a fishing trip in a remote area of Utah.
The Eagles signed Trotter to a one-year contract, where he was the backup at middle linebacker and played on special teams. By midseason, when the Eagles run defenses faltered, Trotter returned to the starting lineup and helped rejuvenate the unit as it reached Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville. Trotter finished with 80 tackles in nine starts that season, and played well enough to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Trotter played his first four seasons in Philadelphia — three of them as a starter — before leaving for a rich free-agent contract with Washington before the 2002 season. His production dipped that year, though, due to injuries. He had just 104 tackles in 2002, and then returned in 2003 to notch 129 tackles, his lowest total in 16 games.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association and has won national awards for his Buccaneers coverage from the PFWA, the National Newspaper Association and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is also a contributor to the Scot Brantley Show from 4-7 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1490-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.