tampabay.com

Bucs keep busy in the secondary

Despite the Supreme Court's refusal to hear his case, Maurice Clarett will be eligible for this month's NFL draft.

By RICK STROUD
Published April 5, 2005


TAMPA - The Bucs continue to bolster their defensive backfield, signing former Detroit Lions defensive back Roderick Babers, the third player added to the secondary in a week.

The Bucs signed Jaguars cornerback Juran Bolden Tuesday and re-signed unrestricted free-agent safety Dexter Jackson on Friday.

A fourth-round pick by the Giants in 2003, the 5-foot-9, 192-pound Babers was released on the final cutdown. The former Texas star was claimed off waivers by the Lions, but Babers' last two seasons have been derailed by injury. A shoulder injury ended his season in '03 and last year he broke his collarbone against Philadelphia Sept.26 and was placed on injured reserve.

In other news, Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber appeared at One Buc Place Monday, an indication he will attend the start of organized team activities today. Barber's agent, Ethan Lock, said he has asked the team to renegotiate the contract of the two-time Pro Bowl player but has received no response. Barber ranked 27th in average salary among NFL cornerbacks at $3-million when the free-agent signing period began.

Meanwhile, coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen visited with Texas running back Cedric Benson in Austin Friday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram , fueling speculation the team is considering taking a running back with the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft.

COURT WON'T HEAR CLARETT: The Supreme Court declined to consider the appeal of Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State running back who challenged the eligibility rules of the NFL draft. The justices on Monday, without comment, let stand a lower court ruling that said federal labor law allows NFL teams to set rules for when players can enter the league. Regardless of how the high court acted, Clarett is eligible for this month's draft.

Clarett was two years out of high school when he sued the NFL, contending the league rule requiring that a player be at least three years out of high school violates federal antitrust laws.

DOLPHINS: Cornerback Mario Edwards, an ex-Buc, signed a one-year contract. He played in 15 games for Tampa Bay, making three starts and recording 22 tackles.

--Information from other news organizations was used in this report.