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News » Tampa Bay Buccaneers Inside Slant 2009-03-01

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Inside Slant 2009-03-01

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Inside Slant 2009-03-01
It's official: They are the rebuilding Bucs.

Why else would Tampa Bay release five veteran players, including linebacker Derrick Brooks, the face of their franchise?

The Bucs also said goodbye to running back Warrick Dunn, receivers Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard and linebacker Cato June. Those five players - four of them former first-round picks - represent a loss of 16 Pro Bowls, 58 years experience and 829 games, excluding playoffs.

Brooks was informed of the decision in a meeting with Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer, coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik Wednesday. "A good word is 'surprised,' Brooks said by text message. "I will talk in the next day or two."

Dominik, who took over as general manager on Jan. 17, said it was an emotional day at One Buc Place.

"I think Derrick and I stepped in this building the same day," Dominik said. "I saw every one of his games, every one of plays. So for me, I've seen Derrick from 1995 to 2008 and that did make it very difficult for me.

"This day was inevitable. We felt like the time was right for us."

The Bucs, who were believed to have close to $60 million in salary-cap room, said Wednesday's moves were not financially driven.

And they did make a big move on Friday to acquire tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. from Cleveland. They then attempted a major move by discussing acquired quarterback Matt Cassel from New England and then shipping him to Denver for Jay Cutler, but that was scuttled when Cassel was traded to Kansas City.

But several players were owed substantial roster bonuses as soon as Friday - the first day of the free-agent signing period.

Dominik said the Bucs want to provide an opportunity for some of their younger players like linebackers Quincy Black, Adam Hayward and Geno Hayes.

Dunn, 34, combined for more than 1,200 yards rushing and receiving last season and appeared to be a good fit in the zone blocking scheme of new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski. But the Bucs are anxious to utilize Pro Bowl kick returner Clifton Smith as a running back, particularly on third down.

Galloway, 37, had three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons after being acquired in a trade from Dallas for Keyshawn Johnson in 2004. But last season, he missed all of training camp with a groin injury and nearly half the season after breaking two bones in his foot, finishing with 18 receptions.

"Obviously, when you let go of two starting linebackers and you let go of the reserves at receiver, sure, there's going to be some change there," Dominik said. "But by the same token, we still have seven linebackers under contract. We still have six wide receivers under contract and we're going to continue to work on negotiating contracts of our players that are about to hit free agency to see if we can bring them back."

Brooks was in the final year of his contract and had hoped to play his entire career with the Bucs. Neither Dominik nor Morris would speculate whether Brooks planned to continue playing. But Dominik said many great players have a hard time walking away from the game on their own terms.

"I think a lot of the great players just play," Dominik said. "And they play and play and that's what makes them have such amazing longevity in their careers. I can't speak for Derrick, but I do see a constant trait among the great players in this league that it's hard to ever step away.

"Obviously decisions like these are extremely difficult for any NFL franchise," Dominik said. "We let go of five really special people within our organization."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 1, 2009

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