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Bucs sign QB Fielder, TE Kranchick

TAMPA, Fla. (June 29, 2006) -- Free-agent quarterback Jay Fiedler signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and will compete for a backup job behind Chris Simms.

The Bucs also signed tight end Matt Kranchick, who spent last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants. The team released receiver Ben Nelson and offensive tackle Stefan Rodgers.

Fiedler has started 60 of 77 games he's played in 10 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets, who released him in February in a cost-cutting move.

The 34-year-old quarterback missed most of 2005 after injuring his right shoulder in the third game of the season. He had surgery to repair a torn labrum and began a throwing program about a month ago.

"Every day I go out there and throw it feels a little bit better," Fiedler said. "I'm throwing three, four times a week right now, hoping to get to a point where I'm throwing it every day pretty soon, working up the strength and getting the range of motion back."

Bucs general manager Bruce Allen is optimistic Fiedler will be ready by the start of training camp.

"I'm not a doctor, but we feel in a month or so, he should be 100 percent.," Allen said.

The Bucs have been in the market for a backup since third-year pro Luke McCown partially tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee earlier this month. McCown finished last season No. 2 on the depth chart behind Simms.

The Bucs also have Tim Rattay, Jaren Allen and rookie Bruce Gradkowski on the roster.

Fiedler is already familiar with coach Jon Gruden's offensive system. Gruden was an offensive coordinator for a portion of the time Fiedler spent with the Philadelphia Eagles early in his career.

Fielder has a 37-23 career record as a starter and has thrown for 11,844 yards, 69 touchdowns and 66 interceptions.

Kranchick appeared in four games with one start for Pittsburgh in 2005. He also played in two games with the Giants.

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