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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs take closer look at Freeman



Despite having four quarterbacks on the roster after signing Steelers free agent Byron Leftwich, the Bucs still took a closer look at Kansas State's Josh Freeman.

General manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris met with Freeman Tuesday night and even dined with him at Grille One Sixteen, a chic steakhouse in northern Hillsborough County.

Are the Bucs still considering drafting a quarterback -- possibly Freeman -- with the 19th overall pick or somewhere later in the draft?

"I don't want to ruin NFL ratings,'' Dominik said Wednesday. "You'll have to tune into the draft and see what happens.

"You could look at position X and say, "Boy, it looks like they're fairly well-covered there. I'd like to say we'll take the best player that makes the most sense for the Bucs.'

If the Bucs pass on Freeman in the first round as expected, some draft experts say he could fall into the second round. Tampa Bay does not have a second-round pick, having traded it to Cleveland along with a fifth-rounder in 2010 for tight end Kellen Winslow.

Leftwich, who agreed to a two-year, $7.5-million deal Sunday, will compete with Luke McCown, Brian Griese and Josh Johnson for the starting job.

Dominik admits that on paper it might not appear the Bucs have the quarterback position settled.

"I think the hard part we have with our group is that they haven't had a lot of opportunity,'' Dominik said. "Obviously, Josh has never played in a game. Luke is very limited in his starts over the last five years now. Byron had a little bit of play-time last year and prior to that, in Atlanta, that was just bad for everybody. They haven't had a lot of opportunity but it doesn't mean they can't win. It's not a position that we will ever take for granted.

"We're up to four (quarterbacks) now and I already feel like we have seven the way you read about it. Obviously, the reason why the guys that are competing for the job, that are here every day, is that they all have the opportunity at their age and their skill set. We'll just have to let that play out and see how it plays out in training camp.''

Dominik said Leftwich was impressive in his workout in Tampa last week and believed he could compete for the starting job.

"I think Byron was looking for the right opportunity,'' Dominik said. "We were trying to decide what quarterbacks made a lot of sense for us. I think once we brought him in here, had an opportunity to have him throw for us, we felt he would be a legitimate competitor for the starting job.

"As for the timing of it, there were a lot of clubs that were sitting back. I think once teams started sniffing around, it got a little more exciting. It was a match for Byron, it was a match for us and that's why we did the deal before the draft.''

Dominik said he had no concerns about Leftwich's durability, which has been a issue during his career.

"He's had some injury history,'' Dominik said. "But he's also well-known for being a very tough quarterback.'

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:30pm]


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