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Cap space might hinder Alstott

Unless the Bucs increase their proposal to Mike Alstott, the fullback will likely retire. Alstott wants to return for an 11th season, but he is believed to be seeking a $1.5-million salary as he received last season.

The Bucs are as much as $19-million over the salary cap, not including what they might pay Alstott, who had the final three years of his contract voided and is a free agent.

General manager Bruce Allen and agent Ben Dogra exchanged proposals this week at the NFL scouting combine but the two sides are considerably apart.

Alstott would like the Bucs' decision by the end of next week.

On the positive side, coach Jon Gruden has said he would like to have Alstott back. Last season, Alstott had just 59 touches but scored seven touchdowns.

NEW STAFF: The coaching staff dined Saturday at St. Elmo's restaurant in Indianapolis and there were plenty of new faces at the table.

The team hasn't formally announced the hirings of Southern California assistants Jethro Franklin and Greg Burns, Stanford assistant Nathaniel Hackett and North Dakota State defensive coordinator Casey Bradley.

Franklin, 40, coached for the Green Bay Packers from 2000-04. He will replace Rod Marinelli as the defensive line coach.

Burns replaces Mike Tomlin as defensive backs coach, a position he was responsible for at USC.

"There were a number of changes and just wait until we get the final straw in the glass here and we'll introduce our coaching staff," Gruden said. "There will be some titles that will be switched a little bit.

"I am fired up. We interviewed so many coaches and it was a great experience. We got better, too. We learned football in the process. (Offensive line coach) Bill Muir, (quarterbacks coach) Paul Hackett and I ended up doing the offensive guys. Monte Kiffin and I must have interviewed I don't know how many defensive coaches.

"We really have done a thorough job and we hired really good guys, guys I'm excited about, teachers, guys who are on fire. We like our coaches. Now we've got to decide who they're coaching."

REVIEW: First there was the Bert Emanuel catch. Now there is the Edell Shepherd drop.

The NFL Competition Committee is expected to study what constitutes a reception. One playcertain to be looked at is Shepherd's potential tying touchdown catch against the Redskins in the NFC wild-card game that was ruled an incomplete pass.

"It got talked about a little bit and I think we'll spend more time on it (next month) in Naples," said Falcons' general manager Rich McKay, the co-chairman of the Competition Committee. "We didn't spend a lot of time on it here. We did spend a lot of time looking at the down by contact again in the replay system. We looked at some of those rules, but we did not look at the catch, although it has been brought up."

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