TAMPA — There was optimism about defensive end Kevin Carter's chances to return after he was released Wednesday in an effort by the Bucs to avoid paying a $2-million roster bonus.
But the longer the veteran remains on the market, the more the Bucs expose themselves to losing him.
Carter, 34, met Friday with general manager Bruce Allen, coach Jon Gruden and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and it's clear they want him back. Whether the sides can agree on a revised contract is another matter.
The Bucs have talked with Tennessee free agent defensive end Antwan Odom, though they have thus far rejected his contract demands.
Carter joined the Bucs as a free agent last year and finished 2007 with three sacks and 43 tackles. If he returns, he'll be joined by Jimmy Wilkerson, a free-agent end from Kansas City who signed a two-year contract Saturday, agent Joby Branion said. Wilkerson, 27, has started five games in five seasons.
CB QUANDARY: The Bucs saw cornerbacks Jacques Reeves (Houston) and Drayton Florence (Jacksonville) taken off the market Saturday but remained in talks with Patriots free agent Randall Gay. Agent Albert Elias said Gay visited the Saints on Saturday but intended to keep his word and visit the Bucs on Monday if the contract parameters are acceptable.
MORE TALKs: Agent Joel Segal said Tennessee tight end Ben Troupe, who visited Saturday, and Arizona receiver Bryant Johnson have been the subject of preliminary conversations with the Bucs.
Rick Stroud contributed to this report. Stephen F. Holder can be reached at email@example.com.