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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs and Antonio Bryant 10 days from a potential split



The NFL's deadline to designate franchise and transition players is 48 hours away, but we know already know the Bucs don't intend to use either tag on any of their players.

But there's another deadline looming. On March 5, receiver Antonio Bryant becomes a free agent after playing 2009 under the franchise tag. Last season wasn't one of his best because of his knee injury, but he clearly is the most consistent receiving threat the Bucs have beyond tight end Kellen Winslow.

Still, as of this writing, we have learned there is very little going on between Bryant and the Bucs. The sides are likely to have conversations during this week's NFL Combine in Indianapolis, but the lack of any substantive talks to this point means there's a long way to go if a deal is going to be struck. Given the current circumstances, a great deal still needs to happen before we can realistically expect any deal to be done.

This is a risky approach the Bucs are taking. If they let Bryant hit the market, we assure you there will be substantial money thrown his way by other teams. Yes, many teams are cutting back on spending and it's probably not the best year to be a free agent. But the one thing Bryant has going for him is that there won't be a whole lot of competition on the market. Outside of Terrell Owens, the list of proven, available and unrestricted free agent receivers is unbelievably short.

Bryant says he wants to stay in Tampa, and I believe him. But if the Bucs let Bryant make it to free agency, they had better be prepared to see him walk away.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:55pm]


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