In an era of NFL free agency that is too often associated with players just selling their talent to the highest bidder, it's refreshing when you find an unrestricted free agent that makes that part of his decision secondary on his list of priorities.
Such was the case this year with former Jets fullback B.J. Askew.
"The most important thing to me was to just find the best situation, somewhere where I could come in and then make an immediate impact," he said. "And looking at Tampa Bay, I couldn't imagine myself in a better situation.
We had a list of teams that were interested, and this one was the one that suited me the best. It wasn't really about the money for me, I just really wanted to get into a great position where I knew I could make an impact and basically show the NFL what I can do."
Even though he was going through unrestricted free agency for the first time this year, the 6-foot-3, 233-pound Askew felt some familiar feelings stir during the offseason.
"It was kind of like being a rookie again. You really don't know where you're going to end up. All that nervousness was there."
|B.J. Askew takes on Patriots LB Rosevelt Colvin (Getty Images/Elsa)|
Askew was amongst the first of a number of free agents the Buccaneers have added as they've stocked up on talent this offseason. They've also signed defensive lineman Kevin Carter (Dolphins), quarterbacks Jeff Garcia (Eagles) and Jake Plummer (Broncos), LB Patrick Chukwurah (Broncos) and offensive tackle Luke Petitgout (Giants).
Over his four seasons with the Jets, even though his field presence was frequent, Askew's touches were limited as he carried the ball just 27 times for 102 yards and caught just 12 passes for 73 yards. But at just 26 years old, he's got the ability to help Tampa Bay revitalize their rushing attack that finished 28th in the league in 2006. Askew's running, blocking and pass-receiving skills -- which were more prominently featured during his collegiate career at Michigan -- will be a real asset to the Buccaneers' offensive attack.
"They know that I'm a three-dimensional type of back," he said. "One of the things I think they like the most is me being able to go up in the middle, get moving on the linebackers, and still be a good receiver out of the backfield and a good runner"
As an added bonus, Askew is an accomplished special teams star, making 68 special teams tackles. His departure from New York will be noticeable, as he was ranked fourth all-time in Jets history in career special teams stops.
Askew is optimistic about the Buccaneers' outlook for the 2007 season, especially in light of the moves they've made during the offseason.
"With the Jets, the year before last, we had the bad 6-12 year and we turned it right around and we were in the playoffs last year. I'm looking to do the same thing with Tampa and I'm sure Tampa Bay is looking to do the same thing," he said. "So I think this is going to be a positive year for us."
Scout.com subscribers can listen to B.J. in the audio clip below as he shares who else was showing interest in him this offseason, how he hit it off during his first meeting with Jon Gruden, and much more!
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