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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Former Buc Jimmy Wilkerson signs with Saints



Former Bucs defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson has agreed to terms with the Saints, closing the door on any possible return to Tampa Bay.

Wilkerson is signing a 1-year, $2 million contract that his agent says allows Wilkerson to bounce back from a serious knee injury he suffered in December and hit the market again next offseason with a chance for a more lucrative deal. Wilkerson specifically wanted a 1-year deal for that reason, agent Harold Lewis said.

Wilkerson was in contact with the Bucs up until the end, but the sides couldn't come to terms on the structure of a contract. Wilkerson spent two seasons with the Bucs, recording 11 total sacks in 2008 and 2009. He was in talks with the Bucs about a possible contract extension during last season but then suffered an ACL tear in his knee in Week 16, obviously putting those negotiations on hold.

The injury was ill-timed as he was an impending free agent. Lewis said the Rams and Seahawks also showed interest in signing Wilkerson.

With the Saints, he has a chance to win the starting role at left defensive end. The Saints also signed former Bear Alex Brown this offseason.

As for the Bucs, what can we glean from them letting Wilkerson walk? They are looking for much more production. Even with Wilkerson, they ranked last against the run and 26th in sacks. What this move reinforces is that the Bucs have high expectations for players like Tim Crowder, Kyle Moore and Michael Bennett and will probably use a rotation at defensive end.

Furthermore, it's pretty much a no brainer at this point that they're going to draft a pass rusher at some point in the first half of this draft. They've been linked to players like Everson Griffen of USC, Jerry Hughes of TCU and Corey Wootton of Northwestern. Personally, I'd be mildly surprised if they haven't picked up a defensive end by the end of the second round. I'd be shocked if they don't address the position by the end of the third round.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 3:59pm]


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