By Eric Schmidt

Over the week at the NFL Combine, reports surfaced that there is virtually no chance that free agent WR Mario Manningham will return to the club in 2012. Instead, it’s now believed that the receiver will be heading to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers once free agency starts in order to reunite with Mike Sullivan. The New York Giants are the reigning Super Bowl Champions but the franchise is going to have to make some tough decision this offseason with 21 pending free agents.

Manningham will long be remembered for his remarkable sideline catch in Super Bowl XLVI late in the game, but is he a good fit for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Manningham is coming off a 39-catch 523 yard season with four touchdowns. His best season came in 2010 when he recorded 60 receptions for 944 yards and nine scores.

Wide receiver is a position of need for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay leads all NFL teams with the most money to spend under the salary cap ($63 million dollars) and according to reports coming out of the combine, the club is expressing interest in some key free agents with most all signs pointing to the franchise finally spending some money.

This year’s crop wide receivers in free agency is going to be exceptionally deep. Speedy New Orleans Saints WR Marques Colston could hit the market. Chargers WR Vincent Jackson is likely to be available. The Philadelphia Eagles could be entertaining offers for WR DeSean Jackson. The Buccaneers have a solid corps of possession style receivers and they need to get faster at the receiver position. Manningham is not exactly a speed burner.

At the Combine in 2008, Manningham ran a 4.59 40 but did manage to improve that time to a 4.43 at his Pro Day at the University of Michigan.

Manningham would be a nice addition for the Buccaneers, but only at the right price. Long time Buccaneers fans will remember the past failures of addressing the receiver position through free agency. Alvin Harper and Bert Emanuel come to mind immediately.The Buccaneers overpaid for both of those receivers and never got the production that they were expecting from them.

Bert Emanuel came to the Buccaneers after a 65 reception, 991 yard and nine touchdown season with the Atlanta Falcons. He contributed just 41 receptions for 636 yards and two scores in 1998 with Tampa. The biggest bust was free agent WR Alvin Harper. Coming off a remarkable 24.9 yard per catch average in Dallas, Harper was a major bust in Tampa.

The Buccaneers need to sprinkle in some veteran players on their roster and Manningham is just that, complete with a Super Bowl ring. He’d be a nice addition for the Buccaneers, as long as they don’t seriously overpay.






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