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Pittman takes one for the Buccaneers
His restructured contract creates room under salary cap.
By RICK STROUD
Published March 4, 2006
[Times photo, 2005: Bill Serne]
Running back Michael Pittman, shown last season against Miami, finished the season with 436 yards rushing and a touchdown.
TAMPA - Michael Pittman is an unselfish player, never complaining about his reduced role in the Bucs offense.
That generosity continued Friday when Pittman agreed to restructure his contract to remain with the team and provide the Bucs with some welcome salary-cap relief.
Pittman, 30, agreed to terms on a contract extension that could keep him in Tampa Bay through the 2009 season.
The deal freed approximately $700,000 of cap room, lowering his salary-cap value for next season to $1.4-million from $2.1-million. The deal includes a veteran minimum base salary of $675,000 next season, roughly half of it guaranteed.
With the deadline approaching for teams to be in compliance with the NFL's $94.5-million salary cap by midnight Monday, the Bucs spent Friday trying to rework deals in anticipation of there not being an extension to the collective bargaining agreement. All transactions must be completed by 6 p.m. Sunday.
By extending the start of free agency by 72 hours, the Bucs were hoping to successfully rework the contracts of linebackers Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles, among others.
A new extension to the CBA, which could add as much as $10-million to the salary cap, would make it possible for the Bucs to also retain quarterback Brian Griese and possibly re-sign some free agents.
Agent Tom Condon said Friday that there still was a chance for the Bucs to re-sign nose tackle Chris Hovan and tackle Kenyatta Walker.
Progress has been slow on talks with representatives for fullback Mike Alstott, who is a free agent and doesn't count against the salary cap.
"More than likely, nothing will happen on or before Sunday," agent Ben Dogra said.
Bucs general manager Bruce Allen has said the team is $19-million over the salary cap if the CBA is not extended. But that figure includes the 1-year, $2.1-million contract signed by quarterback Chris Simms this week and the five-year accord with cornerback Juran Bolden.
But according to the NFL Player's Association, the Bucs were about $11-million over the $94.5-million salary cap early Friday.
"You don't get relief until you turn in a contract, so we don't have relief," Allen said Thursday. "But we feel very good about several situations we're in right now. We feel good about where we're at."
Pittman helped the Bucs cause Friday, just as he came up big during the season as the backup to Rookie of the Year Cadillac Williams, who rushed for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns.
Despite starting just four games, Pittman rushed 70 times for 436 yards and a touchdown and finished third on the team with 36 receptions for 300 yards and one TD. His 6.2 yard rushing average was a career high.
Times staff writer Stephen F. Holder contributed to this report.