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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Clayton is cut by Bucs



The Bucs will have to pay Michael Clayton, but they have decided not to play him.

Tampa Bay released their enigmatic receiver after six seasons Saturday in an effort to trim their roster to a league-mandated 53 players.
After signing a five-year contract that included $10-million guaranteed, Clayton produced only 16 receptions for 230 yards and one touchdown in 2009.

"They let me go this morning,'' Clayton said in a text message to the Times

The Bucs attempted to trade Clayton and played him sparingly in the preseason. He was held out of the third exhibition game and finished with just two catches for 17 yards.

The 15th overall pick in the 2004 draft, Clayton burst onto the scene by leading all NFL rookies with 80 receptions for 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns. But over the next five seasons, Clayton managed to produce only three TD catches.

A year ago, when Clayton became a free agent, he had offers from the Vikings and Seahawks. But Bucs general manager Mark Dominik decided to match those offers, signing Clayton to a 5-year, $26-million deal. Clayton's $3-million base salary is guaranteed by the Bucs, which made trading him difficult.

On his Twitter account, Clayton wrote, "It's cool. No hard feelings we came to an agreement and it is what it let's see what's in store?''

The Bucs essentially made the decision to go another direction at the receiver position when they used a second round pick to select Illinois wideout Arrelious Benn and a fourth-rounder on Syracuse receiver Mike Williams, who is expected to start as a rookie.

Second-year pro Sammie Stroughter likely won the job at the Z position and the Bucs were pleased with the development of kick return man Micheal Spurlock as a pass catcher.

The Bucs could keep as many as six receivers: Benn, Williams, Stroughter, Maurice Stovall, Spurlock and Reggie Brown.

At this time, it appears that running back Clifton Smith is safe, according to his agent.  The Bucs on Tuesday released running back Derrick Ward, who was signed by the Houston Texans. Tampa Bay is expected to keep Cadillac Williams, Earnest Graham, Kareem Huggins and Smith.

[Last modified: Saturday, September 4, 2010 6:21pm]


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