Early Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed a former player from the nearby University of South Florida, just before starting the eighth of their 10 allotted organized team activity days (OTAs). Later on the same day, following the conclusion of that 90-minute practice and a simultaneous tryout on an adjacent field, the Buccaneers parted ways with another former Bull.
The former move was the signing of wide receiver , who last played at USF in 2009 and has since been a member of the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys. The latter move was the release of rookie tight end Evan Landi, a rookie free agent signed after April's NFL Draft. That cleared a roster spot for Tuesday's signing of Derek Dimke, one of a handful of placekickers to work out for Buccaneer coaches and scouts in the morning.
Dimke (6-0, 180) is hoping for a second crack at an NFL training camp after spending last summer with the Detroit Lions. He played in three of the Lions' four preseason games in 2012 before being released on August 27, making both of his field goal attempts (40 and 31 yards). Dimke also handled six kickoffs for Detroit during the preseason, pushing two of them into the opposing end zone.
Dimke first joined the Lions as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Illinois last April. This offseason, he signed with the New York Jets in early April but was released on May 12.
The most accurate kicker in Illini history, Dimke made 39 of his 46 career field goal tries for a success rate of 84.8%. He also set a new school standard for most extra points made (89) without a miss, and finished his Illinois career sixth all-time in scoring with 206 points. An Honorable Mention All-Big Ten choice by both the coaches and the media as a senior in 2011, Dimke was a second-team selection by the coaches in his junior campaign. He was also a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top kicker, in 2010 after making 24 of 29 field goals and 43 of 43 extra point attempts. Dimke hails from Rockford, Illinois.
The addition of Dimke gives the Buccaneers two kickers on the 90-man offseason roster, as was the case earlier in the league year after the signing of veteran free agent Nate Kaeding. However, Kaeding elected to retire on May 2, leaving incumbent Connor Barth as the only placekicker at One Buc Place. Obviously, the Buccaneers are extremely confident in Barth, who signed a new four-year deal with the Buccaneers last May before turning in another fantastic season in 2012. After setting a franchise record with a 92.9% field goal success rate (26 of 28) in 2011, Barth followed with a career-high 28 field goals in 33 attempts last fall, making 12 of his 13 attempts from 40-49 yards out and six of nine from 50 yards and beyond.
However, it is common for teams to carry more than one kicker and more than one punter during training camp. By joining the Bucs, Dimke will get an opportunity to compete for the job in Tampa and to make another impression on the league as a whole. In addition, he will allow the Buccaneers to spread out the many training camp reps, as Dimke can share placekicking duties with Barth and kickoff duties with punter Michael Koenen.