Pearson will generate interest despite tag

Kalvin Pearson has emerged as one of Tampa Bay's most valuable special teams performers. But does that mean the restricted free agent will be back in 2008? examines the issue in this premium article, including comment from Pearson's agent.

Kalvin Pearson needed three years to finally find a consistent job in the NFL. Like most undrafted players, he found his niche on special teams, where he has shined for Tampa Bay the last three years.

In 2007 Pearson led the Bucs in special teams tackles with 21 tallies. In 2006 he notched 13 special teams tackles and in 2005 — his first full year with the Bucs — he made 25 special teams tackles.

Pearson has developed a reputation as a top special teams performer.

But will that be enough to bring him back to Tampa Bay?

His agent, Michael Hawthorne, seemed unsure.

"We are asking for a contract that is justified by Kalvin's special teams contribution for the past three years, where he has dominated," Hawthorne said in an e-mail reply to a question about Pearson's contract status. "We are only asking for adequate pay for adequate play."

As a restricted free agent who entered the league as an undrafted free agent, the Buccaneers only have to offer Pearson a tender of $927,000 in order to retain the right of first refusal for any offer Pearson receives from any other team. However, if Pearson received an offer and the Bucs refused to match the deal, Pearson could sign the new deal and the Bucs would receive no compensation for Pearson.

The Bucs could tender Pearson a higher offer, say a $1.47-milllion offer for a one-year contract. That would not only give the Bucs the right of first refusal if someone signs Pearson, but would also net the Bucs a second-round pick as compensation if they refused to match the offer.

The Miami Dolphins went that route with undrafted free agent receiver Wes Welker last year and received a second-round pick in return when the New England Patriots signed him to an offer sheet.

The rub is that the Bucs appear to see Pearson as important. Hawthorne said he and the Bucs have engaged in a dialogue about extending Pearson's contract since October of last year. Adequate pay for adequate play, as Hawthorne put it.

The Buccaneers, per team policy, do not discuss contract negotiations publicly.

Unless Hawthorne and the Bucs can reach a deal before the end of this month, Pearson will hit free agency. At that point, Hawthorne believes, there will be suitors for Pearson's services.

"We are also aware of several teams that are very convinced that Kalvin will fit well into their system and are looking to make a move on Kalvin if we take him into free agency," Hawthorne said.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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