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Clayton, Bucs Agree To Terms On 5-Year Deal
Posted Mar 1, 2009 by Roy Cummings
Updated Mar 1, 2009 at 01:00 AM
By ROY CUMMINGS
TAMPA – Michael Clayton spent Saturday afternoon in Detroit and Saturday night in frigid Minneapolis. By Sunday afternoon he’ll be back in Tampa – to stay.
After a 24-hour test of the free agent market, Clayton canceled a trip to Seattle and agreed to terms on a new five-year contract with the Bucs.
“I haven’t signed it yet but it’s going to go down [today],’’ Clayton told the Tribune late Saturday. “It’s been a long day for me.’’
The day started with Clayton visiting the Lions. From there he was expected to go to Seattle but a call from the Bucs ended those plans.
“They called and told me not to get on the plane,’’ Clayton said. “They finally met the number we were looking for.’’
Financial details of the contract were not immediately available, but the deal made Clayton the fifth Bucs free agents to re-sign with the club.
He joins receiver Antonio Bryant, quarterback Luke McCown, defensive tackle Ryan Sims and safety Will Allen, who agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.35 million deal earlier on Saturday.
The Bucs have made signing their own free agents a top priority in this market and their actions so far have supported that approach.
Though they have reached out to several free agents from other clubs, only one – Raiders guard Cooper Carlisle - has visited the team and none have signed contracts with the Bucs.
The Bucs have, however, been actively pursuing trades. In addition to doing a deal for tight end Kellen Winslow on Friday, the Bucs tried to work a three-team trade for Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler on Saturday, according to NFL.com.
Though it may have fallen apart much sooner, the Cutler trade disintegrated for good when the Patriots finalized a trade in which quarterback Matt Cassel was dealt to the Chiefs.
The Cassel trade was actually part of a bigger deal that included the trade of Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel to Kansas City, but the Bucs reportedly tried to break it up with their own trade offer.
The Bucs offer likely would have had a draft pick going to New England for Cassel, who would have then been dealt to the Broncos for Cutler, who emerged last season as one the NFL’s top young quarterbacks.
The Detroit Lions, who later traded former starter Jon Kitna to the Dallas Cowboys, were also believed to be working a deal similar to the one the Bucs drafted.
Bucs general manager Mark Dominik did not return requests for comment on the reports during a day when the Bucs biggest success was the re-signing of reserve Clayton, their 2004 No. 1 draft pick.
Clayton has struggled to regain the form he showed as a rookie when he caught 80 balls for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns but the Bucs believe he could thrive again in new coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski’s scheme.
The Clayton deal came as several other Bucs, including safety Jermaine Phillips and cornerback Phillip Buchanon, were also attempting to learn their value on the open market.
The Bucs, meanwhile, appeared to be preparing for the possibility that Buchanon may get away by arranging meetings with the agents for several potential replacements.
Resevers Jabari Greer (Buffalo), Jamar Fletcher (Cincinnati) and Daven Holly (Cleveland) made up that list. The Bucs have also expressed interest in possibly signing Pittsburgh receiver Nate Washington and Packers defensive tackle Colin Cole, who could be brought in as a replacement for Jovan Haye, should Haye find a deal elsewhere.
Reporter Roy Cummings can be reached at (813) 259-7979.