If money talks in Tampa Bay's wooing of Green Bay free-agent tight end Jackie Harris, it had better talk fast.
By early next week, Harris and his agent expect to either receive an offer sheet from the Bucs, or add stops to the free agent's itinerary. Wrapping up a two-day visit in the Tampa Bay area Friday, Harris indicated an eagerness to accelerate his decision process.
"Most definitely I'd like to have it over sooner than later," said Harris, the first free agent to visit the Bucs. "It's kind of like the old college-recruiting thing again. There may not be (an offer) this weekend, but I do expect one."
"It's either going to happen quickly or not at all," said Jim Steiner, Harris' agent. "It's not going to drag out for the next two or three weeks. Either we'll have an offer sheet _ or we won't _ in the next 72 hours. We have no other visits scheduled. Inquiries, but nothing scheduled."
Designated Green Bay's transitional player, Harris can elicit offers, but the Packers have a week to match each offer and keep the four-year veteran.
"The first step was to get him here and find out if he had a sincere interest in us and I think he does," Bucs coach Sam Wyche said. "Now it goes to the negotiation end of it, and that doesn't always happen over the weekend. We will discuss it but I can't tell when and if it will be consummated."
The former fourth-round pick out of Northeast Louisiana is regarded among the NFL's finest tight ends. In 1993 he caught 42 passes for 604 yards four touchdowns.
In a related topic, Wyche said it's conceivable the rumors of the sale of the Bucs to a Baltimore group could hurt the team's efforts to sign free agents.
"It definitely hurts, because they (players) don't know the whole story," he said. "Those unsubstantiated reports are certainly flying around."
Regarding reports of a $200-million offer from Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, Wyche said: "If it did happen, which it didn't, and the Bucs got a phone call and there was a $200-million offer to you, you'd have to think about it, wouldn't you? And if that recipient of the offer said the club was not for sale after a $200-million offer, to me that's a heck of a compliment and lot of respect for the Tampa Bay community."