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Bucs get veteran to plug DL hole
Sack specialist Kevin Carter, 33, signs a four-year deal.
By STEPHEN F. HOLDER
Published March 6, 2007
TAMPA - Kevin Carter clearly isn't part of the defensive youth movement the Bucs were supposed to initiate.
But the newly signed free-agent defensive lineman, 33, can contribute immediately for a team in need of a quick fix, which is why the Bucs were willing to overlook his age when they signed him to a four-year contract Monday.
The two-time Pro Bowl player's deal is worth a total of $25-million, reportedly paying $5.2-million in 2007 and $5.8-million in '08.
Expect Carter to play a key role as the Bucs try to rejuvenate their defensive front after finishing 2006 with 25 sacks, 30th in the NFL. Carter's job description will be sorted out come training camp, but he could play defensive end or tackle. Carter, released by the Dolphins on Friday, is comfortable playing both.
"The greatest thing about Kevin is his versatility," agent Harold Lewis said.
Carter's addition probably will lead to a line shakeup. Left end Greg Spires wondered what it meant for him, considering Carter started there with Miami.
"I just hope that once they get this signing done they tell me what's going on with me," Spires said. "I think I deserve to know."
Spires, 32, expressed concern the Bucs might release him, but that would seem unlikely. Spires said $1.6-million of his $4.5-million base salary is guaranteed, meaning at least that much would remain on Tampa Bay's salary cap if Spires was released. But if the Bucs use Carter as an interior lineman, it's conceivable Spires would play alongside him. Tackle Ellis Wyms might see a reduced role under that scenario.
Entering his 13th season, Carter has never missed a game and remains effective. He notched 5.5 sacks last season and ranks fourth among active players with 97.5 sacks in his career.
Carter made Tampa his first free-agent visit. The Florida native and former Gator called his agent during the visit and implored him to get a deal done, Lewis said.
Plummer still in limbo
TAMPA - The NFL had not received notification of Jake Plummer's plans to retire as of Monday, according to a league spokesman.
Plummer, the former Broncos quarterback, announced on his foundation Web site Saturday that he planned to quit football rather than accept a trade to the Bucs.
Tampa Bay still sent an undisclosed 2008 draft choice, a sixth- or seventh-round pick according to recent published reports, to Denver for the rights to Plummer.
General manager Bruce Allen has acknowledged that Plummer may not play in 2007 and said the Bucs would still be on the hook for the draft pick if the 10-year veteran remains retired. The Bucs will hold Plummer's rights for three years.
Allen said the agreement with the Broncos does have "terms." That could mean the compensation is contingent on Plummer being on the Bucs roster.
When Plummer notifies the NFL office of his intention to retire, his $5.3-million salary for 2007 will not count against the Bucs' salary cap.
However, Plummer could be ask to repay a pro-rated portion of his signing bonus, thought be in excess of $4-million, to the Broncos, especially if his contract includes a forfeiture clause.
"They cannot trade a retired player," NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw said. "He was active at the time of the trade. He said he was retiring once traded. I don't think signing bonuses is an issue."
Allen said the Bucs did not acquire Plummer's rights with the intention of trading them to another team. But Plummer could renounce his retirement at any time, forcing the Bucs to take an immediate cap hit.
Depending on the timing of that decision, Plummer could force the Bucs to trade or release him.
MAHAN UPDATE: Bucs free-agent guard Sean Mahan was expected to visit with the Browns on Monday and the Seahawks today. The Bucs remain in negotiations with Mahan, but no deal appeared imminent. Also, the Bucs were nearing an agreement with Giants free-agent offensive lineman Luke Petitgout on Monday night. Petitgout, 30, visited last week and passed a physical.