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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs pick up 2-year contract option on coach Raheem Morris



After directing the biggest single season turnaround in club history, Raheem Morris has been rewarded.

The Bucs have picked up a two-year option on Morris' contract worth $2-million per season.

Morris, 34, led the Bucs to a 10-6 record with the youngest team in the NFL after going 3-13 in his first season as head coach.

The Bucs ended the season with wins over Seattle and at New Orleans but joined the New York Giants as the first teams to miss the playoffs in the NFC with double-digit wins since 1991.

Morris' new contract includes incentives that could pay him as much as $7-million over the next two years based on performance.

General manager Mark Dominik made it clear following the season that he believed Morris was the NFL's Coach of the Year in 2010.

"When I talk to anyone publicly or privately, I think we have the coach of the year in the National Football League right here in the building, he was right here in front of you guys,'' Dominik said. "I think he’s deserving of the award. I think he’s earned it. We put a lot on his plate this year and he has absolutely handled it all. Certainly we’re disappointed that we’re not playing and preparing for the Philadelphia Eagles right now but at the same point we’re all see where this ship is headed. That’s why we’re so excited about the plan that we started with about two years ago and where it’s gotten us today.''

The Bucs are close to finalizing terms of a two-year contract option for Dominik as well, but no official announcement has been made by the team.

Despite a slew of injuries that claimed many of the Bucs' best players, Morris exceeded expectations this season. Ten rookies started in 2010, the most by a winning team since the merger in 1970. Tampa Bay finished the season without defensive tackles Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, cornerback Aqib Talib, safety Cody Grimm, linebacker Quincy Black, guard Davin Joseph, center Jeff Faine and receiver Arrelious Benn.

Morris biggest contribution might have been convincing the Bucs to trade up two picks in the 2009 NFL draft and select Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman 17th overall. Morris spent one season with Freeman at Kansas State when he was the Wildcats' defensive coordinator in 2006.

Freeman, 22, in his first full season as a starter, passed for 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions, the 9th best touchdown/interception ratio in league history.

Running back LeGarrette Blount led all rookies in rushing with 1,007 yards and receiver Mike Williams led all first-year receivers with 65 receptions for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns. Williams is the first rookie to have double-digit touchdown receptions since Randy Moss in 1998.

Morris surprised some detractors when he proclaimed that his team would be in a Race for 10 wins. But the Bucs made him seem like a prophet by completing that task with a 23-13 win over the Saints on the final day of the regular season. The Packers earned the final wildcard with a 10-3 win over Chicago.

"Yeah, we're racing to 11 next year," Morris said.




[Last modified: Saturday, January 8, 2011 2:20pm]


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