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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs work to keep Clayton, Phillips, other UFA's



General manager Mark Dominik has outlined a very specific approach to free agency -- focus on retaining as many of your good players as possible.

It sounds simplistic, but Dominik began putting that practice to use Thursday by meeting with the agents for receiver Michael Clayton, safety Jermaine Phillips and others.

Dominik said he also plans to meet with Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for cornerback Phillip Buchanon, later this week. The Bucs still have about a dozen players who will become either unrestricted or restricted free agents when the signing period begins Feb. 27.

"I spent today meeting with the agents of our players trying to see if we can figure anything out,'' Dominik said. "We have 12 unrestricted and restrictred free agents. So I spent today trying to talk to as many agents as I can in one-on-one meetings trying to see if there's a common ground that makes sense to bring them back. That's our goal first.''

Dominik said he had no prediction how many Bucs players would actually hit the market.

"There's no way to really gage that because it takes both sides to agree what the value of a player is,' he said.

Dominik also said that's it's possible some players may actually test free agency only to settle a dispute on their market value before re-signing with the Bucs. 

"Sure,'' Dominik said. "The guys that really want to be back, if we have enough comfort in them and their representation, that they really feel, hey, I'd like to find out what my true maket value is, if we really feel as an organization they want to be back, it can be beneficial to the club, the player and the agent.''

The only free agent the Bucs have closed the door on so far is quarterback Jeff Garcia. But that decision was reached early to allow the 39-year-old more time to find another team.

"Our thought that it was only fair to Jeff to let him or his agent know that we were going in a different direction,'' Dominik said. "It wasn't meant to be disrespectful. It was meant to actually respect what he's done for us as a leader and winner on the field. I just think it was the right thing to do for Jeff.''

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:25pm]


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