Bucs Under Cap, But Don't Expect Much FA Action

March 1 – Free agency starts today, but don't expect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be as active in it as they have been in the past. Bucs general manager Rich McKay's priority is to re-sign some of Tampa Bay's own free agents this offseason.

It's Mar. 1, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are under the NFL's mandated 71.1 million salary cap. But the Bucs weren't able to do it without losing a couple of good players.

The Bucs salary cap casualties were LG Randall McDaniel (retired), LB Jeff Gooch, P Mark Royals, S Eric Vance and TE Dave Moore. With the exception of McDaniel, Bucs general manager Rich McKay would like to try and re-sign a couple of those players along with a handful of Tampa Bay's free agents.

"We have 11 or 12 UFAs (unrestricted free agents)," said McKay. "I would bet you that we will get back maybe, three to four to five."

Tampa Bay's No. 1 priority in terms of re-signing players is RB Warrick Dunn. New head coach Jon Gruden feels Dunn will fit perfectly in his offensive scheme, but the key right now it to convince him to come back to Tampa Bay.

"It (re-signing Dunn) is a priority in the sense that the Coach (Gruden), the other day, as his chief negotiator, brought it up in his press conference," said McKay. "I have had discussions with his agent. Warrick has had discussions with the coach. We know from history, once tomorrow comes, we are not in control of the situation, but we will pursue it and we will try to get that completed sooner rather than later. I think it will take some time. It usually does while there is a feeling of what is the marketplace."

The Pewter Pirates have been very active in the free agent market over the last two years, but don't expect them to be as animated this time around.

During the 2000 offseason, Tampa Bay was able to land C Jeff Christy and LG Randall McDaniel via free agency. The Bucs also parted ways with two No. 1 draft picks in order to pry WR Keyshawn Johnson out of New York.

In 2000, Tampa Bay continued to spend by signing free agent QB Brad Johnson, QB Ryan Leaf and DE Simeon Rice. The Bucs also re-signed RT Jerry Wunsch and CB Ronde Barber.

The Bucs are under the cap, but they don't have a lot of money to play with this year. But with the currency they do possess, Tampa Bay plans on targeting at least one or two wide receivers.

"I think we want to sign a couple of guys over time. I see it as a position truly that might not be completed until July. I think It will take some time and I think there is still a little bit of process to figure out based on what we have and than what is out there, and what is best for us to do. What we kind of said is, 'Let's take our time, let's go back through it.' I think Jon (Gruden) met with Keyshawn (Johnson) the other day and is trying to watch as much tape as he can on the guys we have and the guys we had and say, 'This is the way I like to do it.' So, I see that as a position where we sign at least one or two guys, and I don't see that as one we will sign in the next 10 days."

Additional Notes: Tampa Bay will hold its first of four mini-camps before April's NFL Draft.


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