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Rice-to-Bucs courtship intensifies

By RICK STROUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 12, 2001


TAMPA -- The NFL sack race could be run in Tampa next season.

Cardinals defensive end Simeon Rice is strongly considering signing a one-year deal with the Bucs worth about $3-million and becoming an unrestricted free agent again next spring.

The deal would enable Rice to be part of a defensive line that would boast four No. 1 picks, including defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Rice, the No. 3 overall selection by the Cardinals in 1996, saw one of his best options vanish when the Giants opted Sunday to sign former Titans defensive end Kenny Holmes to a deal reported at 5-years for $20-million. That prompted Rice's agent, Roosevelt Barnes, to re-open talks with Bucs general manager Rich McKay during the weekend.

Rice completed his visits with a trip to Chicago on Sunday and could reach a decision this week.

With only about $2.2-million under the $67.4-million salary cap, the Bucs attempted to sell Rice on taking a one-year deal.

It would provide Rice an opportunity to play with a Super Bowl contender and alongside Sapp, who finished second in the NFL with 161/2 sacks last season.

Rice has compiled 511/2 sacks in five seasons with the Cardinals, who made the playoffs in 1998. But the other four seasons, they combined to win 20 games.

If Rice has a big year for Tampa Bay next season, the Bucs told him, he would be in position to be the top free agent next spring or enable the Bucs to attempt to sign him to an extension.

If Rice signs, it could mean the eventual release of defensive end Chidi Ahanotu.

The Bucs "rolled out the red carpet" for Rice last week, according to Barnes.

Holmes headed for Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants have reached an agreement on a $20-million contract with free-agent defensive end Kenny Holmes, the Associated Press reported.

The five-year contract reportedly includes a $5-million signing bonus for the former Titan.

Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon confirmed that the team is close to an agreement.

BROWNS: Wide receiver Kevin Johnson was robbed of $40,000 in jewelry Saturday as he left a barber shop, police in Trenton, N.J., said.

CHIEFS: Quarterback Trent Green is due in town for a physical as the team continues its search for a quarterback to replace Elvis Grbac.

RAVENS: The team is close to signing free-agent right tackle Leon Searcy, the Baltimore Sun reported.

PACKERS: Doug Pederson, who left the team after the 1998 season, could be headed back to Green Bay as Brett Favre's backup.

Pederson's agent, Benjamin Geller, told the Green Bay Press Gazette that Pederson turned down a more lucrative offer from another team to return to Green Bay.

XFL

LOS ANGELES 35, BIRMINGHAM 26: Saladin McCullough rushed for 124 yards and scored two touchdowns to give the visiting Xtreme sole possession of first place in the West.

Los Angeles quarterback Tommy Maddox completed 17 of 25 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns.

N.Y./N.J. 20, SAN FRANCISCO 12: Joe Aska locked it up for the visiting Hitmen with a 2-yard touchdown dive and a conversion in the fourth quarter.

LATE SATURDAY: Jeff Brohm threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns as host Orlando beat Las Vegas 27-15. Jim Druckenmiller threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Daryl Hobbs with 20 seconds left to lead host Memphis past Chicago 29-23.

-- Information from other news organizations contributed to this report.

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