Vilma, Haynesworth on Bucs radar
Defense continues to dominate the Bucs free agent wish list following one of the worst collapses in NFL history.
Perhaps that's why the Bucs were trying to arrange a visit for New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma as the Saints were trying to re-sign the former University of Miami star.
Tampa Bay, with more than a record $60-million under the salary cap, also is among at least six teams who have contacted the agent for Titans defensive end Albert Haynesworth. All six reportedly are willing to discuss a contract that would guarantee Haynesworth between $30-million to $40-million and average about $16-million per year.
The Bucs had no announcements prior to the free agent signing period, which began at 12:01 a.m. That means cornerback Phillip Buchanon, receiver Michael Clayton and safety Jermaine Phillips each are able to test the market.
Buchanon stands to gain the most, especially after DeAngelo Hall re-signed with the Washington Redskins for a contract that guarantees him more than $20-million.
After releasing receivers Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard, the Bucs are in the market for some pass catchers.
Tampa Bay is believed to be interested in Steelers receiver Nate Washington, who was expected to visit the Detroit Lions. The Bucs also reportedly have an interest in Bengals WR T.J. Houshmenzadeh and Saints WR Devery Henderson.
But defense continues to be the priority after the Bucs suffered through a four-game losing streak following a 9-3 start in 2008. Vilma, who had 134 tackles last season, would be the replacement for 11-time Pro Bowl player Derrick Brooks, who was released Wednesday along with four other veterans.
Brooks told ESPN Thursday night he is leaning toward playing next season. Brooks will address his release from the Bucs in a news conference at 9:30 this morning at One Buc Place.