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Casualties of the cap will be eyed

By ROGER MILLS
Published May 30, 2004

TAMPA - It may not be as anticipated as the draft, but in recent years, the arrival of June 1 has brought with it some anxious moments across the NFL.

Beginning Tuesday, teams will start releasing veterans who no longer fit their plans. They receive salary cap relief for the upcoming season by releasing the player this late in the offseason.

Quality players can be found after June 1. The Bucs, for example, acquired Keenan McCardell and Lomas Brown late in the summer of 2002, and both played a role in the march to the Super Bowl championship.

This year, Eddie George, Kurt Warner, Vinny Testaverde, Jason Gildonand Jeremiah Trotterare among the players expected to hit the waiver wire come Tuesday.

"June 1 is a little overrated at times," Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. "The agents are in communication with their clients and the general managers of the teams. You can always speculate pretty accurately who is going to be available, but you're never sure."

Even for teams with a slew of established starters, the waiver wire can be helpful.

"There's going to be a player or two where you say, "Whoa, I didn't expect that,' " Gruden said. "You have to keep your eyes and ears open, and I know from working with Bruce (Allen, general manager) in the past that if there is someone there that Bruce likes, he's going to react to it."

Though the Bucs have 37 players who weren't on the roster last year and 12 rookies, they may not be finished shopping.

"There's no question, if you see a guy that you have studied and you know has something you need, you have to do everything you can to get it done," Gruden said. "I'm comfortable that that will happen, if that case arises."

Are any big-name players on the Bucs' short list? "You can't comment on these players who are under contract," Gruden said. "But a lot of us will be watching carefully, won't we?"

NOW, THAT'S FAST: He is 32, but receiver Joey Galloway has been blazing his way more and more into the offense. After three rounds of voluntary team workouts, Gruden appears to be quite impressed with Galloway, acquired in the trade that sent Keyshawn Johnson to Dallas.

"Joey Galloway is really good," Gruden said. "Man, is he fast. My heart is pumping Kool-Aid sometimes when I'm watching him run around out here."

OH, THAT ELLIS WYMS: Since signing a new contract just before the start of free agency, defensive lineman Ellis Wyms has had quite a presence at the workouts. He should see increased playing time with the departure of tackle Warren Sapp. Entering his fourth year, Wyms appears to have added bulk to his 6-foot-3, 279-pound frame, but Gruden said that might be an illusion.

"I think you're probably looking at him a little bit more," Gruden said. "He's in more of a high-profile position. He's got the contract, and Warren's not here, and he's got to step up. He's always had size and may have been our most versatile lineman, playing all four positions."

[Last modified May 29, 2004, 23:54:21]

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