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Free-agent tour has stop in Tampa

San Diego Chargers free agent Darrien Gordon has seen a lot of the Sunshine State this off-season, visiting all three of its NFL teams.

Monday, he found the warm climate in and outside the Bucs locker room to his liking.

"I'd like to have an opportunity to start and I think I may have that opportunity if I come here," Gordon said. "Also, they need a punt returner, which I do. So there are some opportunities for myself to showcase my abilities."

Gordon's career in San Diego effectively ended when the Chargers opted to re-sign cornerback Dwayne Harper to a four-year, $9.2-million contract.

With no salary cap room left for Gordon in San Diego, he has visited Jacksonville, Miami, Atlanta and Pittsburgh.

In addition to filling a void at cornerback opposite Donnie Abraham, Gordon would be a valuable kick returner. His 13.66-yard career punt return average is the best in league history. Last season he averaged 14.9.

By signing a defensive back, the Bucs could use one of their first-round picks to draft a receiver like Colorado's Rae Carruth or Miami's Yatil Green.

Bucs coach Tony Dungy, GM Rich McKay, scouting director Jerry Angelo and college scouting director Tim Ruskell are scheduled to attend Carruth's workout Thursday in Boulder, Colo.

Gordon would be a natural fit for the Bucs. He was a teammate of safety John Lynch while at Stanford. Last season he recorded two interceptions and two sacks.

In other news, the Bucs signed free-agent linebacker Sheldon Quarles, a Vanderbilt product who has played in the Canadian Football League.

The Bucs also worked out free-agent linebackers Brett Wallerstedt and Daved Benefield. Wallerstedt played mostly on special teams for the Bengals; Benefield appeared in 15 games on special teams for the 49ers.

CHIEFS: Elvis Grbac, tired of languishing for four years as Steve Young's backup in San Francisco, signed a five-year contract, getting what he has long sought _ a starting job. Grbac has completed 284-of-430 passes for 3,098 yards for a career rating of 85.6 percent.

CARDINALS: Quarterback Boomer Esiason, who walked out last season in a dispute over whether he should start, was released. He started eight games before he was replaced by Kent Graham, triggering the walkout.

SANDERS DIVORCE CASE: Texas State District Judge Curt Henderson sealed the divorce record of Dallas' Deion Sanders. Earlier this month, Carolyn Sanders revived the petition she originally filed in September.

RAMS: St. Louis signed free-agent linebacker Mike Jones, who led the Raiders in tackles the past two seasons, and defensive lineman Jeff Robinson.

EAGLES: Philadelphia signed kicker Chris Boniol, lured away from Dallas, to a four-year, $2.45-million contract.

JETS: New York signed free-agent cornerback Jerome Henderson, who spent part of 1996 with New England, and re-signed quarterback John Paci.

FALCONS: Atlanta signed cornerback Derek Grier, a four-year CFL veteran, and re-signed defensive end Todd Kelly.

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