Bucs Officially Sign LB Rudd

April 8 - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers officially signed free-agent linebacker Dwayne Rudd to a two-year contract Tuesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Rudd, 27, is expected to fill the void left by Al Singleton at the strongside linebacker position. In other news, the Bucs signed LB Bubba Alexander, DT Ryan Fletcher, DT Cleveland Pinkey and LB Clayton White to one-year deals.

Dwayne Rudd is officially a Buccaneer.

Tampa Bay officially announced Tuesday that they had signed the free-agent linebacker to a two-year deal.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Rudd, 27, is the fifth free-agent veteran to join the Bucs this offseason. The team previously used some of its salary cap room to address the offensive side of the football, inking guard Jason Whittle, center John Wade and quarterbacks Shane Matthews and Jim Miller to contracts. The Bucs have also re-signed three of their own: linebacker Shelton Quarles, tackle Roman Oben and QB Shaun King.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound linebacker is expected to fill the void left by Al Singleton, who signed a four-year contract with Dallas last month, at the strongside linebacker spot.

³It¹s nice that we were able to add a veteran of Dwayne¹s caliber to replace Al Singleton,² said Bucs general manager Rich McKay. ³Dwayne is a very athletic player and has been very productive over his years in the league. He should have no problem transitioning into our scheme.²

Rudd entered the National Football League in 1997 with the Minnesota Vikings as a first-round pick out of Alabama. Rudd spent four seasons with the Vikings before leaving for Cleveland via free agency.

After spending two seasons in the AFC, Rudd is happy to be playing in the NFC again and is confident he¹ll contribute to an already stellar defense in Tampa.

³With my history of playing in the NFC North against these guys during my first four years in Minnesota, it¹s just a dream come true to be down here and play with one of the best defenses of the 90¹s,² Rudd said. ³I¹m excited to step right in when they¹re playing great.²

Rudd, who has the ability to play all three linebacker positions, played primarily at the weakside spot for the Browns. His tenure in Cleveland was, however, short-lived when the team released him in a salary-cap maneuver earlier this offseason.

Some consider Rudd an upgrade over Singleton. Rudd is considered a well-balanced linebacker in terms of run-stopping ability and pass coverage.

Rudd has started 77 of the 93 games he¹s played in the NFL and he¹s notched 588 tackles and 11 sacks during his six-year career.

In other news, the Bucs signed LB Bubba Alexander, DT Ryan Fletcher, DT Cleveland Pinkey and LB Clayton White to one-year contracts on Tuesday.

Alexander (6-2, 225) entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Dallas Cowboys in 2001 but was waived at the end of training camp. He played his college ball at Texas A&M and Louisiana State.

White (5-11, 238) is the second former New York Giants linebacker signed by the Bucs in the last two years, following Jack Golden in 2002. White originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Giants out of North Carolina State in 2001. He played in all 16 games as a rookie, appearing on both special teams and defense. He then spent the 2002 season on the Giants' injured reserve list and was waived by New York in February.

Fletcher (6-2, 288) entered the NFL as a college free agent with the San Francisco 49ers, but he was waived last June. He played collegiately at Hofstra.

Pinkney (6-1, 300) also started last season in San Francisco, but he originally entered the NFL as undrafted free agent with Indianapolis in 2001. He was waived by the Colts at the end of the 2001 preseason, then signed by the 49ers in 2002 and allocated to NFL Europe. He played his college ball at South Carolina.

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