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Bucs Jump Into Free Agent Fray With Both Feet
Posted Feb 27, 2009 by Roy Cummings
Updated Feb 27, 2009 at 02:47 AM
By ROY CUMMINGS
TAMPA – Free agency has begun and the Bucs have apparently jumped into the fray with both feet.
Though they have yet to be confirmed by either the Bucs or the agents for the players involved, early reports have the Bucs entering into the mix for the market’s top two players – defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
The more curious of the two reports is the one suggesting the Bucs have made a run at Houshmandzadeh, who would fill a starter’s spot opposite Antonio Bryant, who signed the one-year tender that came with the franchise tag the Bucs placed on him last week.
One of Houshmandzadeh’s Bengals teammates told a Cincinnati reporter earlier in the evening that he heard the Bucs and Eagles were emerging as the two big players for Houshmandzadeh, but Houshmandzadeh’s interest in the Bucs may not be as strong as the Bucs interest in him.
In an interview on ESPN’s “NFL Live’’ early Friday Houshmandzadeh said there were four teams he wanted to play for but the Bucs weren’t one of them. The teams making Houshmandzadeh’s list were Philadelphia, Minnesota, the Giants and Seattle.
The Bucs, of course, are definitely in the market for a receiver after releasing Joey Galloway on Wednesday and failing to get a deal done for Michael Clayton before the free agent marketplace opened on Thursday.
They are believed to have very strong interest in Pittsburgh speedster Nate Washington and may revisit the idea of signing Devery Henderson, who was on their want list last year before signing with New Orleans.
The Bucs are also in the market for a defensive tackle and have long been considered a player for Haynesworth, who is a precise fit for the tackle spot in new coordinator Jim Bates defensive scheme. The Bucs aren’t the only players for Haynesworth, however.
The Redskins are also expected to be in that mix and ESPN’s John Clayton reported that as many as six or seven teams have called Haynesworth’s agent expressing interest in the tackle.
All of those teams, according to Clayton, have agreed to meet Haynesworth’s reported demand of at least $30 million in guaranteed payouts and a salary of approximately $15 million per year.
As for the Bucs own free agents, the team did not release news of any signings prior to the start of free agency. That’s an indication that in addition to Clayton, the likes of safety Jermaine Phillips, cornerback Phillip Buchanon and tight end Jerramy Stevens have hit the market.
The Bucs were believed to be in negotiations with the agents for all those players right up to and possibly beyond the deadline, and so it’s possible that deals can still be reached before the players actually begin testing the market.
The Bucs, meanwhile, are believed to be setting up potential visits with the likes of Washington, Falcons linebacker Michael Boley, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and tight end Chris Baker.
The Bucs are also in the market for a running back and are believed to be considering 49ers back DeShaun Foster, Browns back Jason Wright and Seattle back Maurice Morris.