Bucs will keep trying for long-term deal for Bryant
Bucs GM Mark Dominik said he felt receiver Antonio Bryant would have been one of the most coveted players if he became a free agent when the signing period begins Feb. 27.
And Dominik says it's been quite a few years since the Bucs have had a explosive play-maker on offense who can take over games. That, combined with Bryant's relationship with receivers coach Richard Mann, is why he had no qualms making Bryant the team's first franchise player since Chidi Ahanotu in 1999.
"We feel like Antonio is a very talented football player,'' Dominik said. "To be honest, I'm proud that he went from a guy that was basically making league minimum to earning the salary he is. A dynamic playmaker for us on offense. We haven't had that guy who could come in here and do that for a little while and that's not disrespecting some of the other players on this football team. But Antonio Bryant is one of those players that you almost feel like can take over a game. We want him for us. We want to score touchdowns. We want him in Tampa.
"Antonio was going to be one of the hottest names in free agency in our opinion. And our thought with him is let's make sure we have him here, so we thought it was in the best interest of us. I think Antonio is probably very happy that he's earned what he's earned because he has.''
Dominik said the team will continue talks with agent Lamont Smith about long-term conttact for Bryant.
"We're able to discuss until July 15 about a long-term extension, but I'd like to keep that between the agent and the club,'' Dominik
If Bryant doesn't sign the one-year franchise tender by July 15, he cannot negotiate a long-term deal.
"I think how he meshed with coach (Richard) Mann, I think was a very important part to us,'' Dominik said. "Coach Mann has handled a variety of personalities, but he and Antonio Bryant really hit it off and that was very important to us. They just have a special relationship which has made us more comfortable to move in this direction.''