1. Archive

Wunsch agent: Bucs tackle could move on

Now that the Bucs have quarterback Brad Johnson, protecting him would seem to be their priority.

But their plan may no longer include re-signing free-agent right tackle Jerry Wunsch.

Agent Ralph Cindrich said the Bucs have shown little interest in signing their 1997 second-round draft pick and indicated Wunsch is looking for a new home.

"Frankly, it's pretty cold," Cindrich said of the Bucs' level of interest in Wunsch. "There are two teams that have Jerry at the top of their list, and if something pops, it'll be quick. He's going to do what's best for his family."

There are several factors that may have led to the Bucs' casual approach to negotiating with their free agents.

Johnson's five-year, $28-million deal left the Bucs with little room under the $67.4-million salary cap.

General manager Rich McKay has been tied up all week in NFL Competition Committee meetings in Naples.

The Bucs have a greater interest in other free agents.

Among those the Bucs have contacted is Vikings left tackle Todd Steussie, who was released Wednesday.

Although the Bucs still are trying to determine their level of interest in Steussie, he would become an option because he is willing to accept a one-year and re-enter free agency next spring.

Steussie is scheduled to visit the Bengals on Monday. The 49ers, Broncos and Giants also have contacted Steussie.

In Tampa Bay, Steussie would be reunited with former Vikings center Jeff Christy and guard Randall McDaniel. But Christy and McDaniel were not on good terms with Steussie after the '99 season.

Jets let Lucas go

DAVIE _ The Dolphins added a potential new passing combination _ Ray Lucas to James McKnight.

Quarterback Lucas came aboard when the Jets declined to match Miami's three-year, $2.75-million offer sheet. Hours later, the Dolphins announced they signed free-agent receiver McKnight to a five-year contract.

"I was just hoping they were going to let me go and spread my wings and go to Miami _ or, I should say, spread my fins," Lucas said.

McKnight, who led the Cowboys last season with 52 catches for 926 yards and two touchdowns, is expected to compete for a starting job.

"We targeted him right from the start," coach Dave Wannstedt said. "He has a great combination of size, speed and experience."

Lucas had slipped to No. 3 on the Jets' depth chart behind Vinny Testaverde and Chad Pennington. Wannstedt has Lucas slotted behind Jay Fiedler, a first-year NFL starter last year.

"That's the first thing Coach Wannstedt said to me," Lucas said. "He said, "I'm not going to play any games with you _ Fiedler is our starter. But I go by what I see.' "

Miami, which likely will release backup quarterback Damon Huard, re-signed tight ends Hunter Goodwin and Ed Perry.

CARDINALS: Arizona released Matt Joyce, who started 13 games at left guard last season but became expendable with the signing of free agent Pete Kendall. Joyce played every position except center, starting 34 of 50 games since signing with the team in 1996.

COWBOYS: Oxnard, Calif., officials are close to signing a deal to have Dallas conclude its summer training schedule there.

PANTHERS: Carolina continued the overhaul of its offensive line by signing free-agent guard Kevin Donnalley. Donnalley joined the Dolphins in 1998 after spending the first seven years of his career with the Oilers/Titans.

PATRIOTS: Ex-Steelers linebacker Mike Vrabel signed.

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.