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Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik says he'll spend wisely in free agency

MEET THE NEW GUY: Top draft pick Adrian Clayborn signs autographs on the opening day of training camp.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

MEET THE NEW GUY: Top draft pick Adrian Clayborn signs autographs on the opening day of training camp.

TAMPA — GM Mark Dominik reiterated his intention to spend wisely in free agency and made an important distinction about the spending required under the new collective bargaining agreement.

Pointing out that the per-team salary cap floor of 89 percent of the cap is not in place this year (it doesn't kick in until 2013), Dominik said Friday that the Bucs will stick to their principles.

"The important thing is to try to keep the continuity (of the team) together," he said. "It's what we all fell in love with back in the '90s with that group of (Bucs). We'd like to do that again. When you see the (expensive) contracts that are going around the National Football League right now, you know you've got to budget accordingly today to make sure you can take care of your team tomorrow. That's what we're doing."

The cap this year is $120.375 million. But it's a soft cap, and the collective bargaining agreement has ways for teams to exceed it. Also, cap figures will be calculated at the end of the season, so teams have all season to spend the money.

Though some fans continue to lament the team's lack of splashy spending in an environment where money is flying, the collective bargaining agreement guidelines won't be a reason for the Bucs to jump in the deep end.

Kickin' it: The Bucs know how Falcons free agent P Michael Koenen can change a game by changing field position.

That's why coach Raheem Morris is so happy to have Koenen and his 42-yard career average after the six-year pro agreed to a six-year, $19.5 million contract.

What's not as obvious is that Koenen, 29, is probably just as valuable for his ability to kick off. In six seasons, Koenen has 106 touchbacks, which ranks third in the league from 2005-10.

"He certainly killed us, and now he's with the good guys. When I called him, I told him that," Morris said. "He brings a specialty to kickoffs, he brings the dynamic of the field position and winning that battle. ."

On the dotted line: G Davin Joseph (seven years, $52.5 million) and T Jeremy Trueblood (two years/no terms available) and LB Quincy Black (five years, $29 million) signed deals Friday that were agreed upon this week. Restricted free agent K Connor Barth, QB Rudy Carpenter, CB Elbert Mack, WR Micheal Spurlock, S Corey Lynch and T James Lee signed their tenders. Rookie RB Allen Bradford, a sixth-round draft pick, remained unsigned, but Dominik expected a deal in time for today's practice.

PRICE IS RIGHT: Though there have been questions about how DT Brian Price would recover from a rare surgery to repair fractures in his pelvis and a torn hamstring, he and the coaches insist he's not far behind the rest of the team.

Price, a second-round draft pick in 2010, played five games last season before being placed on injured reserve with a pelvic injury. Morris says Price will be able to help the team this season but to what extent depends on him.

Price, who participated in Friday's practices, said he was impressed with how he was able to move the other day but knows it's a matter of pain tolerance.

"He's doing really well now," defensive line coach Keith Millard said. "He's coming off the ball. He's clubbing those bags and showing violence. He's just got to fight through his soreness. … He's getting close."

Feeling the heat: WR Mike Williams was carted off the field near the end of the afternoon practice after getting a cramp in his left calf. He was expected to be fine and at today's practice.

miscellany: Morris' mantra last season, the "Race to 10" wins, created headlines. His goal this year is less catchy, but he believes it's "realistic": win the NFC South.

Times staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik says he'll spend wisely in free agency 07/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 30, 2011 7:34pm]
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