By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer
Published April 2, 2005
TAMPA - Dexter Jackson had something to prove to the Arizona Cardinals in the season finale against his former team.
He was all over the field for the Bucs, recording eight tackles and recovering a fumble.
Jackson made a statement to the Cardinals there was nothing wrong with his once-injured back. The Bucs noticed, too.
On Friday, the Bucs re-signed Jackson, the former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. Terms of the deal were not released, but Jackson said it was for one year.
"I'm happy I've got a job," Jackson said on his way into One Buc Place to sign his new contract Friday.
"I feel great. I'm just very happy to be back (with the Bucs)."
Jackson's signing is significant, filling the Bucs' need for a veteran safety after starter Dwight Smith joined the New Orleans Saints as a free agent. Jackson will compete with second-year pro Will Allen for the starting job.
Jackson's career highlight came in Super Bowl XXXVII when he intercepted two passes to help the Bucs build a 20-3 halftime lead en route to 48-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
A free agent coming off those Super Bowl heroics in 2003, he signed a five-year, $14-million contract with the Cardinals.
Jackson proved worthy of his new deal, recording 105 tackles and a career-high six interceptions in 2003, his first season with Arizona. But during the offseason, he hurt his lower back and was released in October.
After taking a month off to heal, Jackson re-signed with the Bucs Nov. 17. He appeared in six games, recording 25 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass defensed.
Jackson said Friday that he is healthy and has reduced his weight to 204, 14 pounds lighter than what he played at for Arizona. "That's made all the difference," Jackson said.
A fourth-round pick by the Bucs in 1999, Jackson has 325 tackles, 13 interceptions, 2.5 sacks and five forced fumbles during his six-year career.
The Bucs this week bolstered their secondary by signing Jaguars free-agent cornerback Juran Bolden. And Tampa Bay may add another player to the secondary before the draft.
Tennessee Titans free-agent cornerback Andre Dyson could visit or work out for the Bucs before the draft, according to ESPN.com.
Former Titans receiver Kevin Dyson, Andre's brother, and ex-Bear and 49er receiver Curtis Conway visited One Buc Place on Friday.
The Bucs signed defensive tackle Chris Hovan on Friday.
Around the league
BRONCOS: Former New York Giants running back Ron Dayne signed Friday. Defensive tackles Luther Ellis and Monsanto Pope re-signed with the team, along with unrestricted free agent tight end Patrick Hape, a former Buc.
BROWNS: Veteran safety Earl Little was released. He had been claimed off waivers midway through the 1999 season. He started 52 games in six seasons and had 18 interceptions, including one last season when he recorded 81 tackles in 11 starts.
FALCONS: Linebacker Chris Draft was released, another in a series of moves to change the face of the defense. Since signing Edgerton Hartwell to a six-year, $26.25-million contract on March 21, Falcons general manager Rich McKay sought to trade Draft, but he found no takers.
SAINTS: Free-agent running back Antowain Smith, a member of two New England Patriot Super Bowl winners, agreed to a one-year contract. He played with the Tennessee Titans last season, rushing for 509 yards and four touchdowns.
PACKERS: Free-agent running back Najeh Davenport, 26, was re-signed. He was the Packers' main kick returner last season, as well as being the backup to Pro-Bowl rusher Ahman Green.
TEXANS: Veteran linebacker Jamie Sharper was released.
Times staff writer Roger Mills contributed to this report, which includes information from other news organizations.