Bucs release Rice after failed physical
Rice, who was recovering from shoulder surgery, failed a physical administered by the team Wednesday night, according to general manager Bruce Allen. When Rice refused to take a pay cut from the $7.25-million salary he was scheduled to earn this season, he was released.
Rice, 33, appeared in good spirits when he reported to training camp just before 4 p.m. Thursday and accompanied the team on the bus to Disney's Wide World of Sports. But Allen announced Rice's release four hours later.
Allen said the team offered Rice a chance to restructure what would've been the final year of his contract. "He wasn't interested in that,'' Allen said.
Allen said the Bucs could've placed Rice on the Physically Unable to Perform list but worried that he might not recover from his injury. He missed the final eight games last season, recording a career-low two sacks.
"We anticipated and he anticipated being healthy coming to camp,'' Allen said. "We held him out of our off-season programs. I don't think it was any burden to him. He needs some more time to recover. Simeon agreed. He's going to get aggressive with it. He was very confident he has a lot of football left.''
The release of Rice puts the pressure on first-round draft pick Gaines Adams, who signed a 6-year, $46-million deal Wednesday.
Adams is expected to take over from Rice at right defensive end. He was among the first to arrive at training camp Wednesday shortly after signing one of the largest rookie deals in team history.
"I just want to earn that respect from the coaching staff and the players,'' Adams said of his decision to sign in time for the first workout Friday.
"It's like coming to college. I don't know what to expect. I'm nervous. But the first day starts tomorrow. The most exciting part is knowing it's done and I'm here on the first day and at practice the first day.''
Allen said the release of Rice will accelerate Adams' ability to improve as an NFL player.
"We see Gaines as a part of our long-term future,'' Allen said. "For him to get more exposure is not a negative, it's a positive.''
Whether Adams can replace one of the NFL's all-time great pass rushers remains to be seen. Rice has been an enormous force in the Bucs defense for six season, ever since signing as a free agent in 2001.
The 12th-year veteran ranks second in the NFL among active players with 121 career sacks.
Whenever Rice is cleared to play, he shouldn't have much trouble finding work. The Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears could all have an interest in a pass rusher.
In six season with the Bucs, Rice was named to the Pro Bowl twice, in 2003 and 2004.
"I don't think the last chapter in Simeon Rice's career has been written,'' Allen said.
(Times photo - Brendan Fitterer. Click to enlarge.)