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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Bucs gave Ronde Barber $3 million contract

Now that cornerback Ronde Barber has officially signed his contract, we finally are able to learn its details.

Turns out, Barber signed a 1-year deal (we knew that much) for a base salary of $3 million. There do not appear to be any bonuses of any kind, meaning if Barber is on the roster at the start of the season, he'll be guaranteed to earn his full salary.

Barber played last season on a 1-year, $4 million deal. He agreed with general manager Mark Dominik last year to approach any remaining contracts on a year-to-year basis.

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Greg Schiano remains ambiguous about Bucs' plans on defense

When the Bucs hired Bill Sheridan as their defensive coordinator, Sheridan made no pretenses, saying he was hired to run head coach Greg Schiano's defense -- not his own.

That brings us to an interesting question as we attempt to forecast what kinds of on-field changes are in store under the Bucs' new coaching staff: What, exactly, does Schiano's defense look like, anyway?

We put this question to Schiano during the owners meetings this week, but it seems he prefers to keep us guessing a bit. Schiano essentially said his defense will be one with multiple elements and probably won't be easily classified with any of the run-of-the-mill schemes used around the league.

"We’ve had a high percentage of pressure, (with) zone blitzes," Schiano said. "Then again, all my years in college, I studied Monte Kiffin. When I was at Miami, we’d drive up and come to camp and OTAs and those kinds of things. So we’re kind of a mishmash of a lot of different people."

But it seems Schiano's defense won't look exactly the same as it did at Rutgers, mostly becuase he'll be adapting it defend pro offenses. …

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No issues with Trent Richardson's knee at Alabama pro day

Last month at the NFL Combine, Alabama running back Trent Richardson did not participate in on-field drills after undergoing minor knee surgery.

Any lingering concerns after that procedure were put to rest today in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where Richardson starred in Alabama's pro day in front of a large contingent of NFL personnel.

The Bucs are strongly considering drafting Richardson, a Heisman finalist, with the fifth overall pick in next month's draft. But that's provided he's still on the board. Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert were on hand for today's workout, and the Browns appear to have Richardson on their short list.

Neither Bucs coach Greg Schiano nor general manager Mark Dominik attended, but the Bucs are in the process of arranging a private workout with Richardson.

As for how today's workout went, Richardson appears to have run a 40-yard dash in the high 4.4s. No, it's not Chris Johnson fast, but it's plenty fast for a 227-pound back. Richardson said he bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times, an impressive number for a running back.

NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks attended and offered some sentiments in this video.

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NFL commish Roger Goodell sees no issue with Bucs' spending in uncapped year

While the Redskins and Cowboys have been locked in legal wrangling with the NFL office after being penalized for salary-cap violations during the uncapped season, not everyone has forgotten the Bucs and a handful of other teams also took advantage of the lack of salary parameters in 2010.

The Bucs are one of a few teams that spent below the would-be salary floor in 2010, committing less than $100 million -- in some cases, much less -- to their payrolls that year. The NFL warned teams not to impact competitive balance by spending in excess of the usual spending limits created by the salary cap.

Dallas and Washington, according to the NFL, did. Both teams were penalized with massive reductions in their salary caps and soon will challenge the ruling before an arbitrator.

But did the Bucs and other teams also violate the spirit of the rules with their spending decisions? A case can be made they did on the basis of affecting competitive balance.

But today, here at the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell rejected the notion. …

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Bucs sign T Dotson to a two-year deal

The Bucs have signed tackle Demar Dotson to a two-year year, the team announced Wednesday.

Dotson, who can back up both tackle positions, was a restricted free agent.

The Bucs also officially announced the signing of cornerback Ronde Barber to a one-year contract.

Dotson played in 13 games with the Bucs last season and made his first two pro starts, both as a second tight end. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2009 with the Bucs. He has played in 22 career games with two starts.

  

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Greg Schiano trying avoid preconceived notions about 2011 Bucs

If Bucs coach Greg Schiano has done nothing else since being hired in late January, he’s spent time familiarizing himself with last season’s team. Because coaches aren’t yet permitted to consult with players on football under the new collective bargaining agreement (that starts Monday), Schiano can only do this through viewing game tape.

So, when Greg Schiano looks at the 2011 Buccaneers, what does he see?

Coach Raheem Morris’ replacement is hesitant to make assumptions without full context, even though the club lost 10 straight games and was uncompetitive down the stretch. Despite this, Schiano wants to learn his team for himself and continues to try and avoid preconceived notions.

“Other than to evaluate personnel and steal whatever scheme things we liked, I didn’t try to overanalyze (the tape),” Schiano said here at the NFL’s owners meetings in Palm Beach. …

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12:30: Chat live with Tom Jones

Want to talk about the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Final Four, Frozen Four, sports on TV/radio? Whatever's on your mind, join Times sports personality Tom Jones for a live chat today, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Can't make it? Leave a question in the "Comments'' area below, then check back afterward to replay the chat.

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Schiano says Blount won't get touches unless he protects the football while calling Richardson 'a special talent'

Running back LeGarrette Blount has a 'tons of ability,' according to Bucs coach Greg Schiano. But his inability to protect the football could force the team to look elsewhere for ball carriers. 

Blount fumbled five times last season, losing three.      

"I think LeGarrette has tons of ability,'' Schiano said Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. "No one who touches the football will get touches if they don't protect the football. That is one of our core covenants. The ball. It's so important, they named the game after it. So, we make a big deal about that thing.''

Schiano said repeatedly that he wants the Bucs to run the football and use play action passes to take shots downfield. He credited running back Ray Rice with spearheading the turnaround at Rutgers and described the Ravens running back as a 'bell cow.'

The Bucs, who own the No. 5 overall pick, may have an opportunity to draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson, whom Schiano described as 'a special talent.' …

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Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer sounds on Schiano, Dominik, free agents, a bump in ticket sales and return of integrity

The Buccaneers have a new head coach in Greg Schiano, three high-priced free agents, a bump in ticket sales that is a step toward ending blackouts and a belief in their plan to build a consistent winner.

Co-chairman Joel Glazer believes that the Bucs franchise which finished 4-12 in 2011, including 10-straight losses that led to the firing of coach Raheem Morris and his entire staff is headed for calmer waters.

But he admits mistakes were made.

"When you have a season like last season, everybody should accept responsibility, from the owner to the general manager to the head coach,'' Glazer said from the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach. "No question, at the end of the season, I felt it. Geez, maybe we should have, maybe we were too extreme in what we did...

"It's a very painful process and I don't think a lot of people have the stomach for the process but we just believe to get there, you have to go through that.''

The Bucs endured a 24-day coaching search that led them to Schiano, the former Rutgers coach who brings organization, discipline -- and yes, Glazer says -- integrity that might have been lost in three seasons under Morris. …

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Draft talk with Dominik: Could the Bucs trade down?

The hardest part about any trade is often finding a partner to trade with, something Bucs general manager Mark Dominik undoubtedly knows.

But in the event a team gets the urge to make a draft-night trade for Tampa Bay’s No. 5 overall selection, Dominik will consider their offer with a very open mind.

A trade down – he’s ruled out trading up – is something Dominik would welcome, he said here at the NFL’s owners meetings. Such a move would likely provide additional lower-round picks for the Bucs.

“I really like where we’re at in the draft, picking No. 5,” Dominik said. “I know that we’ll walk out with a good player if we stay at 5. But I’m willing to move back if I feel like the opportunity is there.”

Dominik later added, “If I can move down some, do I? Yes. If I don’t, then I’m happy where we’re going to be at 5.” …

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Dominik on the salary cap, Josh Freeman and linebackers

Bucs general manager Mark Dominik, taking a break from the NFL’s owners meetings here in Palm Beach, took some time to address a number of issues, including the club’s plans for its remaining cap space.

Though the Bucs entered the free agent signing period earlier this month with more than $40 million in cap space and have something in the neighborhood of $16 million remaining, that money can’t and won’t be used to sign more top-dollar free agents, Dominik said.

After doing more than $140 million in contracts since March 13, his plan for the cap space includes the following: save a portion for the incoming rookie class, per usual; Possibly spend some on a second wave of moderately-priced free agents after the draft; and account for next year and beyond, when the Bucs expect to face the prospect of some big contract extensions, including that of quarterback Josh Freeman. …

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Jackson will make big plays for the Bucs, Chargers coach Norv Turner says

Vincent Jackson will stretch the field and improve the accuracy of quarterback Josh Freeman, Chargers coach Norv Turner said Tuesday.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Jackson owns a career 17.5-yard receiving average and was extremely productive in his seven seasons with the Chargers.

"Vincent is an outstanding person, he's really a competitive player,'' Turner said from the NFL owners meetings Tuesday. "Obviously, the thing he did for us, he stretches the field, he makes big plays up the field. He's had an 18-yard average. He's a guy who's going to help the quarterback be more accurate because of his big frame, big body receiver who's going to go get the football.

"The guys that have been with me, I think they understand if you play receiver in our offense, you're going to go run. I assume that's the way it is in most places, you're going to go run. Vincent is an outstanding worker, he loves to practice, is high energy and he runs. He runs up the field, he comes back and he runs up the field again, he comes back and he runs up the field again. That's what we do and we're a vertical passing game. He's a guy a lot of times won't let you take him out.'' …

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Payton '100 percent' certain he will coach Saints in 2013, but Parcells remains an option for this season

A contrite Sean Payton said he is '100 percent,' certain he will coach the Saints in 2013 but that the team is considering a number of options about who will replace him during the year-long suspension.

Chief among the candidates is Bill Parcells, the Giants's two-time Super Bowl coach and Payton's mentor. In fact, Payton said he planned to meet with Parcells later Tuesday.

Payton was suspended a year and general manager Mickey Loomis eight games for their role in the Saints bounties program that operated for three years under their watch.

“We’ve gone through just an early, between Mickey, myself, Mr. (Tom) Benson, just an early synopsis of what our options would be,” Payton said. “We’ll continue to do that when we get back to Metairie. Even this morning some, we’re going to have some breakfast and discuss that matter. Fortunately, we feel like we’ve got a number of good candidates. The trick then is what it does to affect their roles that they currently have.” 

Parcells, the two-time Super Bowl coach with the New York Giants, hired Payton as an offensive assistant with the Dallas Cowboys in 2003. …

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NFL teams will continue to be permitted to block assistants under contract

We’re still not sure how many times the Bucs were blocked from interviewing other teams’ contracted assistant coaches in their efforts to build a coaching staff, but we know there’s a good chance we’ve not seen the last of such situations.

The NFL is discussing many potential rules changes here at the league meetings in Palm Beach, but one matter they won’t debate is changes to the current rules that severely limit the ability of coaches under contract to interview for other jobs.

Competition Committee chairman and Falcons president Rich McKay said this afternoon that the issue was not raised in the lengthy annual team surveys the committee undertakes, meaning no change in the rule will be discussed this year.

“We expected to see some (feedback) in the surveys and really didn’t see it,” McKay said. “We had talked about the anti-tampering rules for an awfully long time (in previous years). The ruling we got to is that a contract is a contract.” …

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Delay of game: Talib trial moved again to June 25

So much for the Bucs wanting to know the outcome of Aqib Talib's legal troubles before next month's NFL draft.

Talib's trial in Texas for assault with a deadly weapon has been moved again, this time to June 25, according to his attorney, Frank Perez.

That won't please the Bucs, who were hopeful of having an outcome to Talib's legal woes before the NFL draft, which begins Thursday, April 26.

It's the second time in a week Talib's trial, orginally scheduled for March 26, has been moved. Perez was notified last week that Talib's court date had been changed to April 16 because the prosecutor's wife was schedule to deliver a baby. At least the Bucs would've known Talib's status before the draft under that scenario.

If convicted, Talib would likely face another suspension from the NFL. He was suspended the first game of 2010 for assaulting a St. Petersburg cab driver in Aug. 2009.

"We want to get this over with before the season starts,'' Perez said Monday in a text to the Times, "so he can get this off his back.'' …

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