Bucs May Lose Special Teamers To Houston

February 16 - With former Tampa Bay special teams coach Joe Marciano now employed by the Houston Texans, the Buccaneers may lose up to two valuable special teamers in Monday's expansion draft. Expect Marciano and the Texans to look closely at selecting linebacker Jeff Gooch, strong safety Eric Vance or long snapper Sean McDermott.

Before former Tampa Bay special teams coach Joe Marciano left for the same post with the expansion Houston Texans, it looked like the Buccaneers might not lose a single player in Monday's expansion draft. But with Marciano taking over the Texans' special teams and the Bucs placing three key special teams contributors on their five-man expansion list, it seems the Bucs may lose as many as two players in the expansion draft.

Expect Marciano to look hard at taking strong safety Eric Vance or linebacker Jeff Gooch. Vance, who compiled 20 special teams tackles over his four-year Buccaneers career, including 17 over the last two seasons. Vance will earn a base salary of $448,000 in 2002 and has a roster bonus of $25,000 coming to him on March 1. Vance only had one start at strong safety in Tampa Bay.

Gooch was the team's starting strongside linebacker in 1998 before Shelton Quarles wrested the job away the next season. He would be more of an impact player for Houston, but also comes with a higher price tag. Gooch will earn $1.25 million in 2002 and will have a roster bonus of $750,000 payable on March 1. Gooch has been one of Marciano's top special teams performers in his six-year career with the Bucs, totalling 85 special teams tackles in the regular season, including 23 in 2000 and 16 last season.

Although Gooch's price tag for the year 2002 is a bit steep, Houston could afford it or simply acquire him and restructure his contract. Or the Texans could wait until free agency to see if the Bucs release him to clear some salary cap room before free agency begins on March 1.

Long snapper Sean McDermott may also draw the Texans' interest, although Marciano is familiar with Mitch Palmer, who is currently on the Houston roster and played for the Bucs between 1998-2000.

The two other players submitted by Tampa Bay for the expansion draft - left guard Randall McDaniel and defensive end Marcus Jones - are not expected to be drafted by Houston, according to Bucs officials who spoke to Buccaneer Magazine. The Texans have said they don't plan on drafting any players over the age of 30, which would preclude the selection of the 36-year old McDaniel.

Jones' 2002 combined salary and roster bonus of $3 million, his paltry three sacks in 2001 and the length of his contract might scare off the Texans. Jones is signed through the year 2007 when he is scheduled to receive a base salary of $7 million. Jones might not be a good fit for Dom Capers' 3-4 defensive alignment in Houston.

The Houston Texans' expansion draft will be held on Monday, February 18 at 2:00 p.m. at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. The draft will be carried live on ESPN.

All teams submitted a list of five players to Houston, who can select a maximum of two players from each team. In accordance with NFL guidelines, the Texans must select between 30 and 42 players in the veteran draft or a fewer number of players with total salaries of 38 percent of the cap. An existing club can recall one player from its list after one of its players is selected. After a second player is selected from a club, that club can pull back both of its remaining players. 

Copyright 2001 Buccaneer Magazine/BucMag.com

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