The long goodbye starts this weekend.
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepare to close out the 2004 season on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, they are also preparing to say goodbye to several prominent members of the 2002 Super Bowl champion team, some expected to leave via free agency and some expected to be given the pink slip.
There's no telling what the Bucs will do in the off-season, but one thing's for sure: There will be a new-look Buccaneers team on the field in 2005.
Among those speculated to be preparing for their final game in pewter and red is fullback Mike Alstott. It's expected that QB Brad Johnson will be gone at the end of the season as well as WR Tim Brown. At least one key defensive player is likely to be gone due to salary cap restrictions and Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks' names have been bandied about.
For the final game, the Bucs travel to a normally-dismal Cardinals' team that has been solid at home this season while the Bucs have lost four straight on the road and has only one win. The Cardinals were 4-5 at one point which qualifies as a powerhouse in the woeful NFC, before QB Josh McCown went down and was replaced by former Buccaneer Shawn King who couldn't get the job done. McCown is back for the finale and he has one of the best receiving tandems in the league with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Bryant Johnson. The Bucs have been beaten by the pass in the last few weeks, so McCown may be licking his chops.
This will also mark the return of Bucs RB Michael Pittman to Arizona where he began his career after leaving for the Bucs as a free agent.
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