TAMPA — Roy Miller could head elsewhere after talks between the Bucs and the nose tackle, who can become an unrestricted free agent, broke off, his agent said Thursday.
Mike McCartney did not disclose his demands or what the Bucs have offered. But he did nothing to dismiss the notion that Miller is destined to play in another uniform in 2013.
"Roy is excited to see what's out there for him in free agency," McCartney said of the 6-foot-2, 310-pounder. "He has a lot to offer after an excellent season, helping a team that was last against the run (in 2011) go to No. 1 … last season."
Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik did not return a message left for him.
Miller, a third-round pick in 2009, registered just 24 tackles last season. But his primary role, clogging the middle on first and second down, helped tackle Gerald McCoy and the Bucs' ends attack ball carriers.
McCoy made his first Pro Bowl, in part, he said, because of Miller. The Bucs allowed 3.5 yards per carry and 82.5 per game, both league lows. They were last against the pass at 297.4 yards per game, but Miller did not typically play on passing downs.
Playing the "tilted nose," Miller, 25, excelled. It's a role for which coach Greg Schiano described Miller as being "custom built."
The team would need to address defensive tackle if Miller leaves. Veteran Gary Gibson is the only other experienced nose tackle under contract. But he will be 31 when the season begins and has been a backup for most of his six seasons.
Miller's status as a two-down player hurts his leverage. But the team has committed to such a player in the past, giving a five-year, $29 million contract ($11 million guaranteed) to strongside linebacker Quincy Black in 2011.
With regard to other teams, Miller is seen as an option primarily for 4-3 defenses, which about half the NFL employs. He'll have his first chance to negotiate with other clubs March 9, when the NFL opens a three-day negotiating window during which free agents can agree to contracts in principle.
With Miller eyeing the open market, the issues along the defensive line could be compounded if the Bucs also lose starting left end Michael Bennett, their leader in sacks in 2012.
Teams have until Monday to designate a franchise player. But Dominik indicated at the recent combine that the team does not intend to use it on Bennett. He said he anticipates Da'Quan Bowers taking over Bennett's starting spot.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @HolderStephen.