Bucs Lose FS Jackson To Cardinals

March 12 - Tampa Bay free-agent safety Dexter Jackson will not be back aboard the Buccaneers' ship next season. Jackson, a two-year starter for the Bucs, signed a five-year, $14-million contract with the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay couldn't find enough cap room to re-sign free safety Dexter Jackson, which is why he agreed to a deal offered by the Arizona Cardinals on Wednesday.

According to ESPN, Jackson signed a five-year, $14-million deal with the Cardinals after giving the Bucs one last chance to try and match the Cardinals' offer. But Arizona's offer of about $2.8 million per season was about $1.5 million per season over what the Bucs were able to offer Jackson for his services.

Jackson, who earned Super Bowl XXXVII MVP honors when he hauled in two interceptions during Tampa Bay's 48-21 win over Oakland, also visited the Pittsburgh Steelers. In fact, Jackson came close to signing with the Steelers a few days ago, but the Cardinals' final offer made Jackson one of the highest-paid free safeties in football.

A 1999 fourth-round pick out of Florida State, Jackson was the Bucs' starting free safety for the past two seasons. He started all 16 games for the Bucs last season and recorded 71 tackles and three interceptions during the regular season.

The Bucs will now turn to safety John Howell and second-year S Jermaine Phillips to fill the void left by Jackson at free safety. The Bucs might also sign a veteran player to compete with both Howell and Phillips.

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