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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs will pass, but Antonio Bryant will have free agency options



Barring a shocking change of heart by the Bucs, receiver Antonio Bryant will line up in a different uniform in 2010.

The team's most accomplished receiver becomes a free agent later this week, and both coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik are on record saying they don't plan to retain Bryant.

At first glance, this might seem like bad news for Bryant. But don't be so sure he's hanging his head. If he does like we did and takes a glance at the list of unrestricted free-agent receivers, Bryant's mood should instantly improve.

That's because the list of available starting-caliber receivers (and for some, we use the term loosely) is about as long as a Twitter status update. Here's the best of what we could come up with:

  • Derrick Mason (Ravens)
  • Terrell Owens (Bills)
  • Josh Reed (Bills)
  • Mushin Muhammad (Panthers)
  • Kevin Walter (Texans)
  • Chris Chambers (Chiefs)
  • Bobby Wade (Chiefs)
  • Nate Burleson (Seahawks)

So, that's Bryant's competition on the unrestricted market. In other words, he should come out of this just fine. Yes, Bryant has some warts, like a questionable knee and route running that leaves something to be desired. But given his big-play ability, someone will take their chances and probably pay him significant money to join their team. Don't rule out the Redskins being that team, by the way. It's probably doubtful that Bryant matches the nearly $10 million salary he made last season when he was designated the Bucs' franchise player. But that doesn't mean he won't t get a relatively long-term deal with big guarantees.

In any event, look for Bryant to get scooped up rather quickly when free agency begins in the wee hours of Friday morning (12:01 a.m.). It'll be a little longer than that before we know whether the Bucs made the right call or not.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:55pm]


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