Keenan McCardell's name still resides on the Jaguars roster next to his familiar 87, but that will soon change. On June 2, McCardell will be released by the Jaguars in a salary cap move and 87 will become the property of another player, but it won't be worn by Bobby Shaw.
"I don't think I want that number. I want to do something for myself and make a name for myself," Shaw said during an interview today at the Jaguars' mini-camp. For now, Shaw is wearing number 16.
Shaw came to the Jaguars in early April as a player willing to earn considerably less than his market value, in exchange for the opportunity to establish himself as a frontline NFL pass-catcher. Shaw surprised almost everyone, including his former team, in turning down a significant signing bonus to re-sign with the Steelers. Instead, Shaw agreed to a one-year contract with the Jaguars that will pay him a league-minimum salary of $525,000. Shaw also got a $25,000 signing bonus.
"You always want the chance to go out and compete. In Pittsburgh, I understood my role but you want to step out of other people's shadows," Shaw said of his decision to leave the Steelers, where Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress are entrenched as the team's starting wide receivers.
Shaw worked his way up to the number three wide receiver spot in Pittsburgh last season, when he developed a reputation for making clutch, third-down receptions. Now, with the Jaguars, Shaw wants the big numbers. He wants to post the kind of numbers McCardell had the past six seasons, with the idea reward will follow next winter in the form of a juicy, new contract.
"The money isn't what makes you compete. I've gone against the grain my whole career. It wasn't a step back. It's a chance to take a couple of steps forward," he said of rejecting the more lucrative offer from the Steelers.
"(Bill Cowher) called me. I told him it wasn't anything personal. I loved my time there. I had a chance to do more here than I had a chance to do there," Shaw added.
Shaw's reputation is that of a possession-type receiver who lacks deep speed. He was taken by the Steelers off the Seahawks' practice squad and slowly developed into a valued pass-catcher in Pittsburgh. His career has been somewhat of an endurance test. Sound familiar?
In many ways, Shaw's story is a newer version of McCardell's. The Jaguars can only hope Shaw will be the second coming of McCardell.
"I had a guy on the other side of the field who I knew would come to work every day," star wide receiver Jimmy Smith said of McCardell, conspicuous by his absence at this mini-camp. "We have to look toward someone else," Smith added.
Clearly, Shaw is that "someone else." He has McCardell-type hands and possession ability, but he won't have McCardell's number.
"He's done a lot for this team. It's going to be a loss. I'm going to try to be myself," Shaw said.