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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs will release Chris Hovan today



It was only a matter of time.

The Bucs have decided to release Chris Hovan today after drafting a pair of defensive tackles in the first and second rounds of last week's draft, the Times has confirmed.

Hovan is entering his 11th NFL season having played the past five with the Buccaneers. The addition of the tackles in the draft isn't the only thing that did him in; Hovan was set to make $4 million in base salary this fall, much too much for what would have been an aging, backup defensive tackle.

Hovan turns 32 next month and hasn't been the same player he once was during the past two seasons. He is a former first-round pick of the Vikings who was touted as a key addition when he joined the Bucs as a free agent in 2005.

Hovan had a career-high 95 tackles in 2007, but his production fell to 69 stops in 2008. In 2009, he had 59 tackles, his fewest since joining the Bucs. Furthermore, he was getting less push up the middle, something that is required of nose tackles in the Buccaneers' scheme. The Bucs ranked last in the NFL against the run last season.

The biggest void left by Hovan's release will be his leadership ability. Over the years, he took personal responsibility for leading young players like the late Gaines Adams and Roy Miller. Now, what will be a very young defensive line will have to look elsewhere for its leadership.

The Bucs explored the possibility of trading Hovan over the weekend but found there was no interest. That's because other teams knew he was expendable and weren't willing to fork over a draft pick of other compensation for a player who soon would be a free agent.

Another player to watch here is defensive tackle Ryan Sims, another veteran who became exposed after the draft. But he still has a chance to be in the Bucs' four-man defensive-tackle rotation and could be included on the training camp roster as a result. Sims is scheduled to earn $1.375 million in base salary for 2010.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 4:00pm]


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