TAMPA — Brian Price's failure to complete the Bucs conditioning test Thursday was not the final straw that led to the team's decision to cut ties with the troubled but talented defensive tackle, general manager Mark Dominik said Friday.
Price, a second-round pick in 2010, was only able to complete four of the required 16, 110-yard sprints with 45 seconds in between — a new measure administered by coach Greg Schiano.
Price heard and felt "a pop" while participating in the drill and could not finish. Bucs trainers believe the injury is not significant. But following the conditioning test, the Bucs traded Price to the Chicago Bears for an undisclosed draft pick.
Price, who weighed in at 303 pounds Thursday, has had many well-documented physical and personal issues, including losing his sister, Bridgette in a fatal hit-and-run automobile accident in May.
"It's something we've been thinking about and talking about," Dominik said Friday. "Certainly, we wanted to bring Brian Price back in here and have a chance to see how he looked. He did lose weight, he looked like he'd lost 20-something pounds over the offseason program, which is important. But you take the whole picture together and say this is something we felt like we should do.
"It's very difficult to think about all the things he's gone through from the losing of his sister to the injuries he's dealt with to the surgeries he's dealt with. But we have to go out there and win some football games. And part of our plan was to be involved in free agency and find guys, like Gary Gibson or Amobi Okoye and Wallace Gilberry. And we have E.J. Wilson and Roy Miller. It's a position we've focused on understanding that this day could come."
Dominik said he worked with Price's agent, Chuck Price (no relation), on finding a new home for the former UCLA star while also fulfilling the needs of the Bucs.
"At a personal level, I worked a lot with Chuck Price, spent a lot of time with Chuck, so there's no surprises from the Price family, from his agent. They knew what our expectations were, what we wanted. At the same point, we're an organization that communicates and spends a lot of time.
"We felt like Chicago was a match we wanted to make. He's on a plane right now, he's flying to the Bears."
Would Price have been cut if he passed the conditioning test?
"That's hard to say," Dominik said. "It's everything, it's taking everything across and looking at the entire picture of what Brian Price has done where he was going with his career. Certainly, as an organization you hoped and wanted him to have the success of where we drafted him at. Now it's time for us to talk about the other football players that are on this football team and looking forward to what they can do."
KEEP IT FRESH: In his 16th season, Ronde Barber is embracing a challenge.
The Bucs want to move their right cornerback to safety, opposite rookie Mark Barron. It not dissimilar to what the Packers have done with Charles Woodson.
"I just want to play, I want to win," Barber said. "It's not very often you get to not only play 16 years, but to find new challenges in your 16th year and new opportunities to prove yourself. I'm very comfortable not being status quo, not doing what I've always done, and finding new ways to better myself and help this football team."
ROSTER MOVES: The Bucs placed LT Donald Penn on the non-football injury list with a calf strain. Penn was injured in Los Angeles training for the Bucs conditioning run, Dominik said. He is expected to miss a few weeks.
Tampa Bay signed North Illinois WR Landon Cox and Southern Miss DB Marquese Wheaton, and claimed former Toledo CB Desmond Marrow off waivers from Houston.
Cox takes the spot on the Bucs roster vacated by receiver Dezmon Briscoe, who was released Thursday after failing his conditioning test. Wheaton takes the roster spot of CB Derrick Roberson, who was placed on the active physically-unable-to-perform list.