Dunn Deal: Bucs Free Agent RB Soars To Atlanta

March 14 - Buccaneer Magazine has learned Tampa Bay free agent running back Warrick Dunn agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday evening. Dunn's deal is believed to be worth between $4 million and $4.5 million and it will include a signing bonus that could exceed $6 million. Bucs coach Jon Gruden was high on Dunn and hoped to re-sign him, but now the team will likely face him at least two times per season since both teams were realigned into the new NFC South division this year.

Free agent Tampa Bay running back Warrick Dunn would have liked to have suited up in a red and pewter uniform again, but Buccaneer Magazine has learned the only colors Dunn will be sporting next season will likely be black, red and gray.

The Atlanta Falcons reached an agreement in principle with Dunn on Thursday evening, which likely means Dunn's days in Tampa Bay are finished. The deal is a five-year deal worth between $4 million and $4.5 million per season and includes a signing bonus that could exceed $6 million. A deal is expected be officially announced on Friday.

Dunn, 27, entered the National Football League as a 1997 first round draft selection of the Buccaneers out of Florida State University. Dunn, a two-time Pro Bowler, struggled last season due to a nagging toe injury. He rushed 158 times for a career-low 447 (2.8 avg.) yards and three touchdowns. Dunn, however, had a positive impact in Tampa Bay's passing game, where he hauled in a career-high 68 receptions for 557 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Although Dunn (5-foot-9, 180) rushed for 4,200 (3.9 avg.) yards and scored a total of 26 touchdowns during his five years as a Buc, both he and Pro Bowl FB Mike Alstott struggled to coexist in the same backfield under former Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy.

Dunn, who was recruited heavily by Atlanta owner Arthur Black, will join an offense that features second-year quarterback Michael Vick. Dunn, who is a speedy back, should benefit from playing on astroturf at least eight games per season in the Georgia Dome.

Tampa Bay was interested in retaining Dunn's services, but felt his asking price was too much.

The Bucs still have Alstott under contract, but have been shopping him around the league during the offseason due to the high cap figures in the two remaining years of his contract. Tampa Bay may still flirt with the idea of trading the A-Train or they could even cut him before April 15, when he is due a $2 million bonus. But that will not likely happen unless the Buccaneers can sign a free agent running back like Michael Pittman, Dorsey Levens or even Atlanta RB Jamal Anderson, who the Falcons could release since he is apparently not in their future plans.

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