Barrett Ruud no longer appears to be in Bucs future
Linebacker Barrett Ruud may have played his last snap with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
General manager Mark Dominik indicated the Bucs have no plans to re-sign Ruud, an unrestricted free agent who led the team in tackles the last four years.
Dominik announced Tuesday the team moved quickly to sign linebacker Mason Foster, the team's third-round pick from Washington.
"That's a big element because he's a big part of our future plans here,'' Dominik said. "So getting him under contract and letting him be in the building tonight already and starting to learn is the most important thing we can do.''
Dominik said Tyrone McKenzie, the former South Florida star who was acquired off waivers from the New England Patriots, also will compete at middle linebacker.
"I have high expectations for Mason Foster and what he'll be for this football team,'' Dominik said. "I also think that Tyrone McKenzie learned a lot at the (middle) linebacker position. We also signed a guy I considered in the seventh round, Derelle Smith, a middle linebacker from Syracuse I thought was a really talented college football player. So I have a lot of young guys, certainly, who have to step into big shoes and to a really mental position. But I have a lot confidence in who Mason Foster is and his mental make-up to be able to do so.''
However, Ruud, a second-round pick by the Bucs in 2005, didn't seem ready to close the door on Tampa Bay. When asked if he believed he'd played his last game for the Bucs, Ruud was non-committal.
"That's tough to say,'' Ruud said Tuesday. "I'm just going to wait until all this stuff is finalized before I really delve into it. I want to wait until when everybody is signed, when the actual picture comes out.
"I have no idea in all honesty. If I've got more football there, that's great. If not, it's understandable there, too.''
Ruud missed the off-season in 2009 as a restricted free agent, hoping to force the Bucs to offer him a contract extension. Prior to last season, he attended every off-season workout but was visibly upset that the club elected to sign left tackle Donald Penn to a new contract while bypassing him again.
But Ruud did not let his frustrations get the best of him on the field. He joined former linebacker Derrick Brooks as the only player in club history to lead the team in tackles in four straight seasons, finishing with 118 stops, two sacks, one interception and two fumble recoveries.
Ruud said he received interest from several teams Tuesday, the first day NFL teams can begin contacting free agents.
"It's early in the process,'' Ruud said. "A lot of people say you shouldn't reflect what you feel about somebody and just let it play out. We've gotten a few calls but I want to wait and hear everything. That's the great thing about this process, you can hear from everybody....it's a crazy time, no doubt. We've never seen anything like it.''
Meanwhile, Dominik declined to reveal whether he's had any discussions aimed at re-signing Ruud.
"I would say an important element for us long-term is that we got Mason Foster signed to a four-year contract,'' Dominik said. "Obviously, I think it's important your (middle) linebacker, a young guy we drafted is here on this football team and trying to learn the system as fast as possible and any kind of discussions with Barrett or his agent I would leave out of the picture right now.''