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Releasing the defensive ends puts the team in position to sign a pass rusher.
By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
Published February 28, 2008
TAMPA - Memo to free-agent defensive ends: The Bucs have a job opening and can meet any salary demands.
Tampa Bay released defensive ends Kevin Carter and Greg Spires on Wednesday in a cost-cutting move that left them about $44-million under the salary cap.
Carter, 34, is expected to sign a new contract and return. But with his release, the Bucs avoided paying him a $2-million roster bonus.
The moves saved the Bucs more than $9-million on the salary cap and increased speculation that Tampa Bay would target a big-ticket defensive end such as Cincinnati's Justin Smith.
Carter was acquired as a free agent from the Dolphins last year. He had three years left on his contract and was slated to earn a base salary of $3.8-million in the fall.
Carter started all 16 games last season and had 43 tackles. But he produced just three sacks, and the Bucs want to upgrade their pass rush. Nonetheless, he provided valuable leadership in the locker room.
Carter, a 13-year veteran out of Florida, declined comment.
Spires, 33, was on the Bucs' Super Bowl XXXVII championship team. The former Florida State standout had two years left on his contract and would have earned a base salary of $3.894-million in 2008. The 10th-year player who joined the Bucs in 2002 missed six games last season with a calf injury and finished with 26 tackles and two sacks.
"We appreciate getting released today to get out ahead of the madness," Spires' agent, David Levine said. "They said that's why they did it today."
Levine said Spires' release will save the Bucs about $3.3-million on the salary cap.
Greg White and Gaines Adams are the only defensive ends with extensive playing experience last season. White, the Arena Football League's defensive player of the year with Orlando who joined the Bucs after the start of training camp, led the team with eight sacks. Adams, the Bucs' first-round pick, had six sacks to tie for second on the team.
CRUMPLER/COLEMAN UPDATE: Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler visited the Bucs on Tuesday and had a physical. General manager Bruce Allen is believed to have begun preliminary talks with agent James Williams. Crumpler met with the Titans on Wednesday and is expected to talk with the Seahawks. The four-time Pro Bowl player has more than 4,000 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns. Falcons defensive tackle Rod Coleman visited the Bucs on Wednesday.Rick Stroud can be reached at email@example.com.
And then there were four ...
With the retirement of running back Mike Alstott and the departures of cornerback Brian Kelly free agency, running back Michael Pittman (free agency) and defensive end Greg Spires (waived), here are the Bucs left from the Super Bowl XXXVII-winning season:
Ronde Barber CB
Derrick Brooks LB
Ryan Nece LB
Jermaine Phillips S
[Last modified February 27, 2008, 22:59:56]