Super Bowl Bucs dwindling in number
Michael Pittman's move to the Broncos marks the beginning of a new chapter for the veteran running back. But it also means something else for the Bucs: It leaves just four holdovers from the 2002 Super Bowl roster.
Pittman was the last offensive player hanging on from a season that is beginning to feel more and more like ancient history with each passing year. The remaining players from the Super Bowl season are linebacker Derrick Brooks, cornerback Ronde Barber, safety Jermaine Phillips and linebacker Ryan Nece. The latter two, Phillips and Nece, were rookies that season, with Nece spending half the season on injured reserve with a knee injury.
In the not-so-distant future, it's plausible the remaining four could be cut by half, if not more. Brooks is nearing the end of his stellar career, and Barber is getting closer than some will admit. Nece has continued to defy the odds and has kept his job the past six years despite the team's annual influx of linebackers. But he'll have to beat out competition again this year. Phillips might be in the best position to stick around long term as he is one of several players for whom the Bucs are considering a contract extension.
Pittman's departure was one of several in the last couple seasons involving key players from the Super Bowl squad. Last year, Simeon Rice and Shelton Quarles were released. And earlier this year, Mike Alstott called it a career.
Just goes to show you that six years is a lifetime in the ever-changing NFL.
On a separate, unrelated note, you might want to check out tomorrow's story on Gaines Adams in which he makes a pretty honest admission about a bad habit of his. You'll see what I mean.