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Rice thrilled by Tampa Bay visit

By RICK STROUD, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 8, 2001

TAMPA -- Cardinals free agent defensive end Simeon Rice "had a great visit with the Bucs" who "rolled out the red carpet," according to agent Roosevelt Barnes.

Rice arrived in Newark on Tuesday afternoon and spent Wednesday visiting the Giants. He plans to meet with the Bears and Bengals.

The Bucs are hoping Rice, taken No. 3 overall in 1996, will want to join a defensive line that already has three No. 1 picks and play for a Super Bowl contender. Barnes said Rice will make a decision after completing his trips.

"We think he can be a superstar and fit in so well here with our defensive line," Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "We would have four No. 1s on the defensive line, and they all play like No. 1s."

Rice had 51.5 sacks in five seasons with the Cardinals, who made the playoffs in 1998. In Rice's four other seasons, they won only 20 games, including three last season.

Rice won't come cheap. Marcellus Wiley, the other elite defensive end on the market, signed a six-year, $40-million deal with San Diego, which included a $9-million bonus.

"We're just going to wait and see how Simeon feels and then we'll deal with the financial stuff later," Barnes said.

"Simeon has always liked New York, I know that. He likes New York, Tampa, and he's from Chicago."

Bucs safety Damien Robinson will visit today with the Jets and former Bucs defensive backs coach Herman Edwards. The Jets are expected to make Robinson an offer.

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