Bucs' Free Agency Roundup

March 9 - Buccaneer Magazine has the latest free agent activity regarding the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including a visit to Tampa from TE Ken Dilger on Sunday and a visit yesterday from QB Rob Johnson, as we first reported.

Former Indianapolis Colts tight end Ken Dilger is a hot commodity on the free agent market with several teams interested in his services, including the Buccaneers. Dilger, who was released due to salary cap concerns, will visit with Tampa Bay on Sunday, according to his agent Mark Bartelstein. The Bucs also have an interest in former Bengals and Redskins tight end Marco Battaglia, former Seahawks tight end Christian Fauria and possibly former Vikings tight end Byron Chamberlain.

Meanwhile, former Bucs starting tight end visited with the Pittsburgh Steelers this week and indications are strong that he would like to sign with them because they are close to his home town. Moore is from New Jersey but played college football at the University of Pittsburgh. The Steelers, like the Bucs, want more as a backup and a long snapper. Although Tampa Bay has expressed an interest in re-signing him as a reserve, talks with the Steelers have progressed more than Moore's talks with the Bucs about his return.

As Buccaneer Magazine first reported on Thursday, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Rob Johnson visited the Bucs on Friday. New Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden expressed an interest in bringing in more quarterbacks to compete with last year's starter, Brad Johnson, and backups Shaun King and Joe Hamilton. Johnson had designs on signing with Houston, but was put off by the team's low-ball offer of $1 million for one year. The expansion Texans also appear set on drafting either Fresno State quarterback David Carr or Oregon passer Joey Harrington with the first pick in the draft and playing either quarterback during his rookie campaign. R. Johnson agreed to terms with the Buccaneers on Saturday afternoon.

Running back Warrick Dunn visited the Detroit Lions on Thursday and had a great visit with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday.

"It's impressive," Dunn told the Associated Press of the Eagles' situation. "The facilities are great. The coaches, the owner (Jeffrey Lurie) are great. I'll leave the city, think about some things and try to make the right decision. I want to be a featured back. Just because of my size, doesn't mean I can't be."

Since Dunn's arrival in Tampa Bay in 1997, the 5-foot-8, 180 pound rusher has split carries with fullback Mike Alstott. Dunn, who made $1.22 million in the final year of his rookie contract last season, has expressed an interest in being a feature back and hasn't ruled out staying in Tampa after a good meeting with Gruden shortly before free agency.

Dunn is coming off his least productive year, totaling just 447 yards rushing on 158 carries with an average of only 2.8 yards per carry. If Dunn were to sign with Philadelphia, he would team with last year's rookie rusher Correll Buckhalter and replace Duce Staley, who has not completely recovered from a foot injury that kept him out of most of the 2000 season. Staley is scheduled to make $1.8 million in base salary in 2002 and is due a roster bonus of $500,000 if he is still on the team by next Friday.

Dunn also had plans to visit the Atlanta Falcons during the free agency period, but those plans may be on hold amid reports that the Falcons are negotiating with former San Francisco running back Garrison Hearst. Dunn expects to come to a decision regarding what team he wants to play for next year in the near future.

"I want to win a Super Bowl," Dunn said. "I want to get it over quick, make a decision and move forward."

In other free agent news, former Bucs wide receiver Jacquez Green might be the replacement for Az Hakim in St. Louis. Hakim signed with the Lions on Friday, leaving a void at the No. 3 receiver position with the Rams. The Rams have already turned down overtures by Cris Carter for the role, and reports indicate that Green had a good visit in St. Louis on Thursday and Friday. The Bucs have an interest in re-signing Green, but only at the right price.

The Bucs would also like to re-sign receiver and kick returner Karl Williams, but want him cheap. The New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys have also expressed some interest in Williams.

Former Bucs cornerback Brian Kelly is expected to meet with Jets head coach Herman Edwards in the coming days. Edwards used to be Tampa Bay's secondary coach and covets a big cornerback like Kelly after losing highly-paid corners Aaron Glenn and Marcus Coleman to Houston in the expansion draft. The Jets signed former Jacksonville cornerback Aaron Beasley on Friday, but are still trying to find at least one more starter.

The Bucs have shopped cornerback Donnie Abraham to the Jets and other teams, but so far, the Jets are not prepared to compensate Tampa Bay with the second-round pick they are requesting. Abraham is slated to earn over $4 million this season for the Bucs.


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