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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Culpepper running out of options



Maybe Daunte Culpepper will join the Bucs, after all.

The word is that the Bucs encouraged Culpepper to make a decision by the time the team reports to training camp Thursday at Disney's Wide World of Sports.

Culpepper's options appear to be dwindling and he doesn't have time to take the free agent tour. Falcons coach Bobby Petrino said his team has no interest in the Dolphins' free agent despite the indictment of Michael Vick. That could be a strange situation for the Falcons, anyway, since starter Joey Harrington backed up Culpepper in Miami last year.

The biggest surprise might be the sound of the door shutting in Jacksonville. Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said on his radio show Tuesday that Culpepper would not be joining them.

"We said we'd investigate it and we have,'' Del Rio said. "My gut is it's not going to be a fit for us and for him.

"I think it's all about a player and a team finding common ground. I'm just telling you that at this point he has other suitors out there and we feel good about our quarterback situation with Byron Leftwich as our starter and David Garrard as our backup.''

What other suitors? It could be that Del Rio is simply saying Culpepper's price tag is too high. Or maybe Culpepper still sees himself as a starting quarterback. But the Falcons, Jaguars and Rams have all said no to Culpepper.

For the time being, the only team that has publicly shown interest in signing Culpepper is the Bucs, who snuck him into town last Thursday.

From the Bucs' perspective, Culpepper has a lot more NFL pedigree than either Chris Simms or Bruce Gradkowski. If starter Jeff Garcia becomes injured, coach Jon Gruden would find himself in the same situation as he did last year.

He doesn't exactly fit the Bucs' offense. But if Gruden can retool his attack for Simms in 2005, he can do it for Culpepper. You also know that Gruden can charm the socks off of any quarterback.

Some believe Culpepper might not be physically able to play until late in 2007. His health is an issue. Culpepper also has to realize that where ever he plays, he won't be starting the first game. In fact, he might have to sit the entire season and use it to get healthy.

Money is another factor. You can bet the Jags wouldn't pay Culpepper more than Byron Leftwich and the Bucs aren't going to give him more than Garcia.

But  with each passing day, it appears more likely the Bucs could actually land Culpepper.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:46pm]


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