Bucs cut Carter, Spires; Carter could return
Defensive ends Kevin Carter and Greg Spires have been released by the Bucs in a cost-cutting move. However, Carter is expected to sign a new contract that would enable him to return to the team.
The Bucs were forced to release Carter to avoid paying him a $2-million roster bonus.
The transactions Wednesday means the Bucs will be about $40-million under the salary cap when the free agent signing period begins Friday, putting them well ahead of most other teams.
Carter, 34, was acquired as a free agent from the Dolphins last year. He had three years remaining on his contract and was slated to earn a base salary of $3.8 million next season.
Carter started all 16 games for the Bucs and recorded 43 tackles. But he produced just three sacks and the Bucs want to upgrade their pass rush. Nonetheless, Carter provided some valuable leadership in the locker room.
Carter declined to comment on his release when reached Wednesday.
Spires, 33, was a member of the Bucs Super Bowl XXXVII championship team. He had two years left on his contract and would've earned a base salary of $3.894-million in '08. But last season Spires missed six games with a calf injury and finished with 26 tackles and two sacks.
"We appreciate getting released today to get out ahead of the madness,'' said Spires' agent, David Levine, referring to the start of the free-agent signing period that begins Friday. "They said that's why they did it today instead of waiting.''
Levine said Spires release will save the Bucs about $3.3-million on the salary cap. As of Wednesday evening, Levine said he already had spoken to several teams who had interest in signing Spires.
"On this squad, he was no longer a starter," Levine said. "But there's a good chance Greg Spires will be starting for someone next season."
Greg White and Gaines Adams are the only remaining defensive ends who had extensive playing experience last year. White, the Arena League Defensive Player of the Year with the Orlando Predators who joined the Bucs after the start of training camp, led the team with eight sacks. Adams, the Bucs' first round pick, had six sacks to tie for second on the team.
The release of Spires could pave the way for the Bucs to make a run at Bengals free agent defensive end Justin Smith.