Bucs bring back reserve DE Warner
By RICK STROUD and ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 21, 2003
TAMPA -- Another day, another player squeezed under the Bucs' tight salary cap.
Tampa Bay re-signed defensive end Ron Warner to a one-year contract on Thursday. He will report to training camp with Tampa Bay for the third straight year.
Warner is the first of three exclusive rights free agents to sign with the team. Long-snapper Ryan Benjamin and defensive back Corey Ivy remain unsigned.
Until the Bucs finalize an agreement to restructure the eight-year, $53-million contract of Keyshawn Johnson, their hands are somewhat tied in free agency.
The new deal for Johnson would give the Bucs about $2.5-million of cap money. Tampa Bay is about $500,000 under the $75-million payroll limit.
According to Johnson, there still are a few issues regarding the language in elements of the contract that need to be ironed out.
"We're waiting to hear back from (the Bucs)," Johnson said. "There's a few things we weren't comfortable with. But I'm pretty certain it'll get done soon."
More than half of Johnson's $5-million salary for 2003 would be paid in the form of a signing bonus.
The Bucs have put on hold the signings of left tackle Roman Oben and possibly Bears free-agent quarterback Jim Miller, who is recovering from rotator cuff surgery.
LYNCH'S NUMBER RETIRED: Safety John Lynch, who culminated his 10th NFL season with a Super Bowl title in his hometown, had his high school number retired in a ceremony at Torrey Pines High in San Diego.
"It was a fun day," Lynch said. "All the coaches and ex-teammates were there and it was great to see the old guys again. To have my friends and family there as well was very special."
Lynch, who wore No.7 as a star quarterback, joked that all the talk about "retiring" was not a sign.
"I told them that I wasn't too comfortable with the word 'retiring,"' Lynch said. "I feel great and think I have a lot more left in me."
Lynch, who played at Torrey Pines from 1985-89, said he gave the school's current quarterback, Chase Kelly, permission to wear the jersey No.7 until Lynch retires.
The celebration of Lynch's achievement was put together by current coach Ed Burke.
"It was appropriate, with all the accomplishments that John was able to receive, including the Pro Bowl and leading his team to a Super Bowl," Burke said. "We felt it was important to retire his jersey."
WASHINGTON TO HOUSTON: Former Bucs center Todd Washington, part of the team's first wave of roster cuts, said he will visit Houston on Sunday and likely will sign with the Texans after a physical Monday.
Washington, who played his first five seasons with the Bucs, visited the Texans last year but re-signed with the Bucs before being released early this month. Washington, who played left and right guard as well as center for the Bucs, said he expects to sign a one-year deal for the league minimum of $660,000.
"I'm excited about the chance to play center, which is my natural position," Washington said.
Around the NFL
CONWAY JOINS JETS: The Jets want Curtis Conway simply to be himself. He doesn't have to replace Laveranues Coles.
"I like tough guys," Jets coach Herman Edwards said as he introduced the receiver. "You've got to be a tough guy to do the things we require our receivers to do. He'll do a lot of good things for us."
Conway's signing came a day after the team announced it would not match the $13-million signing bonus and $35-million contract Coles got from the Redskins.
Conway received a three-year deal that could pay as much as $7.5-million with a signing bonus of $1.2-million.
BILLS: Larry Centers was released in a cost-cutting move that leaves Buffalo without the NFL's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards by a running back. The team also released linebacker Eddie Robinson, 32, who appeared to lose a step in his first season with Buffalo and 11th in the NFL.
COWBOYS: Free-agent cornerback Donald Mitchell signed a three-year deal worth about $2.6-million.
GIANTS: Safety Omar Stoutmire re-signed. Terms were not immediately available.
STEELERS: Linebacker Jason Gildon was told that disorderly conduct charges will be dropped if he does 60 hours of community service during the next three months.
VIKINGS: Defensive end Lance Johnstone re-signed after leading the team with seven sacks.
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.
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