Wade, Bucs free agents to hit market
It appears the Bucs plan to part ways with starting center John Wade after five seasons.
The 6-foot-5, 299-pound Wade has not been offered a contract just three days before the free agent signing period begins Feb. 29 and is expected to hit the market, agent Bus Cook said Tuesday.
In fact, most of the Bucs' 10 unrestricted free agents will probably remain unsigned, although some have been offered contracts.
Wade, 33, has fended off challengers for his job since he arrived in 2002. The Bucs could re-sign G/C Matt Lehr and have hoped guard Dan Buenning could make the transition to center. But general manager Bruce Allen is likely to search for an upgrade to Wade through free agency or a trade.
"Our first key really at the (NFL scouting) combine is talking to our players who are free,'' Allen said. "The ones who will hit free agency Feb. 29.''
One player who has been tendered an offer by the Bucs is restricted free agent safety Kalvin Pearson, but he is looking for more than a one-year deal. Problem is, unless Pearson manages to find a team willing to sign him to an offer sheet that Tampa Bay would have the right to match, he has no option other than to settle for the one-year contract. Players do not have to sign such tenders right away, allowing them opportunity to see what the free-agent market has to offer.
"What we've done is we've had meetings and we're going to meet again with them again and give them time to think about the parameters we gave them,'' Allen said. "They've given us their proposals for us to digest to get back with them about. We want everyone to know where we stand, and in some cases, we've agreed the best thing to do is see what free agency has to offer them and they'll make a decision based on that.''
In other news, former Carolina running back DeShaun Foster reportedly is close to signing with the San Francisco 49ers. The Bucs had expressed an interest in signing Foster.