Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Release Chidi Ahanotu

Tampa Bay parts ways with defensive end who has started 104 games in eight seasons

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DE Chidi Ahanotu had 31 sacks in eight seasons with the Buccaneers

One day before the 2001 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made one final pre-draft alteration to their roster, waiving ninth-year defensive end Chidi Ahanotu.

With this roster move, the Buccaneers have dealt from a position of depth, paring Ahanotu from a group that still includes four former first-round draft picks in Warren Sapp, Marcus Jones, Simeon Rice and Anthony McFarland. With Rice signed earlier this spring to play right defensive end, Jones is expected to switch to the left side, where Ahanotu has started for the better part of eight seasons.

Originally drafted by Tampa Bay in the sixth round in 1993, Ahanotu has played in 113 regular season games for the Buccaneers, starting 104. Excluding the 1998 campaign, when a shoulder injury forced him to injured reserve after four games, Ahanotu has started at least 10 games in each of his seasons with the Buccaneers.

His career totals include 385 tackles, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 15 passes defensed. In addition, he has racked up 31 sacks, good for fifth place on Tampa Bay's all-time list. Ahanotu's best season came in 1997, when he tallied career highs in tackles (65) and sacks (10). Last season, he started all 16 games and pitched in with 63 tackles, 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, three passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

Ahanotu's release continues an unexpectedly event offseason for the Buccaneers. On March 2, the team claimed former San Diego QB Ryan Leaf off waivers, then signed him to a reworked contract on March 19. On March 6, QB Brad Johnson, an unrestricted free agent, was signed to a five-year deal. On March 23, Rice inked a six-year pact with the Bucs.

The Bucs' now have eight defensive linemen under contract on the roster. In addition, DT James Cannida is a restricted free agent with a tender offer on the table and DE/DT Tyoka Jackson is an unrestricted free agent free to negotiate with any team.

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