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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Bucs Release Three

Thanks to some timely contract restructuring and an inflated salary cap, the Buccaneers’ cuts on the eve of free agency cuts were limited to Jeff Gooch, Brian Griese and Matt Stinchcomb


G/T Matt Stinchcomb started 16 games for Tampa Bay in 2004 but spent 2005 on injured reserve due to a back ailment

As cuts go, these weren't overly deep.

That's likely to be the case around the NFL on Friday, as the deadline passes for roster moves before the start of the new league year. Thanks to the CBA extension reached on Wednesday night, teams are working with a much higher salary cap and finding less need to trim veteran salaries from their payrolls.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers released three players on Friday afternoon: linebacker Jeff Gooch, quarterback Brian Griese and guard/tackle Matt Stinchcomb. Such decisions are never easy, and all three of the released players have performed well as Buccaneers. However, Gooch and Stinchcomb spent the entire 2005 season on injured reserve and Griese joined them six weeks into the campaign, meaning their combined on-field impact last year was limited to Griese's fine work as the starter during the team's 5-1 start.

In addition, it's fair to say that the Buccaneers will explore the possibility of bringing any and/or all of those three back at some point. In Griese's case, the Bucs have said since the end of the 2005 season that it was their desire to take all of their '05 quarterbacks with them into '06. Chris Simms, who started the last 10 games of the season after Griese's knee injury, was re-signed last week.

A series of restructured contracts with returning veterans, achieved last week and up through the weekend in anticipation of a Sunday deadline, had already accomplished most of the cap-compliance work the Buccaneers needed to do, which helped keep Friday's cut list to a minimum. Around the NFL, a salary cap of $102 million rather than $94.5 million is expected to stave off a flood of high-profile veterans into the free agency market, which opens after midnight on Friday.

Gooch, a 10-year veteran, has played in 137 career games with 24 starts, including 105 games and 22 starts as a Buccaneer. Gooch, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Tampa Bay in 1996, was a member of the Buccaneers from 1996-01 and 2004-05. He also spent two seasons with the Detroit Lions in between those two Buc stints. He has totaled 235 tackles and 164 special teams tackles during his career. Last season, Gooch was placed on injured reserve on September 3 prior to the regular season.

Griese, an eight-year veteran, has played in 75 career games with 72 starts, including 17 starts and 16 starts with the Buccaneers. In 2004, Griese played in 11 games with 10 starts and set new franchise single-season records for highest completion percentage (69.3), most yards per pass attempt (7.83) and highest NFL passer rating (97.5) in his first season with the Buccaneers. A third-round draft choice by Denver in 1998, Griese played five seasons in Denver and one in Miami before joining the Buccaneers. He was chosen for the Pro Bowl after the 2000 season.

Stinchcomb, a seven-year veteran, has played in 70 games with 36 starts, including 16 starts as a Buccaneers in 2004. Last season, he was placed on injured reserve on October 5 due to a back ailment that had kept him out of action since early in training camp.

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