DE Greg Spires had 26 sacks over his six seasons as a Buccaneer
The hours and days immediately after the beginning of free agency – which will occur at 12:01 sharp on Friday morning – should be very busy around the NFL. Perhaps even in Tampa.
As usual, the last few days before the open-market period will also be busy, as many teams make necessary salary cap adjustments for the new league year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had some business of this variety to take care of before the end of the week, and they did so on Wednesday, releasing veteran defensive ends Greg Spires and Kevin Carter.
Carter and Spires have a combined 21 years of NFL experience, though the former has spent just one season as a Buccaneer.
Spires originally signed with the Buccaneers in 2002 and was a member of the Super Bowl XXXVII-winning team that same season. The former New England Patriot and Cleveland Brown earned a starting job in his first season with the team and was essentially the Bucs' starting left end for five-and-a-half seasons.
Thanks in part due to a lingering calf injury, Spires was replaced at left end for much of the 2007 season by Carter, with rookie Gaines Adams simultaneously taking over at right end. Carter signed with the Buccaneers a year ago after playing his first 12 NFL seasons in St. Louis, Tennessee and Miami.
Carter played in 16 games and made 14 starts in his one season as a Buccaneer, contributing 73 tackles and three sacks. Remarkably, he has played in all 208 games of his 13-year professional career. Spires appeared in 10 games with eight starts, recording 43 tackles and two sacks. Over his six years with the team, Spires played in 89 games, made 87 starts and compiled 340 tackles and 26 sacks.
Carter and Spires immediately become unrestricted free agents; they may negotiate and sign with any team in the league.
Though not precisely an annual event, maneuvers such as these are fairly common as the NFL flips its own yearly calendar and player contracts move on to the next season's salaries in terms of cap impact. Last year, the Buccaneers released tackle Kenyatta Walker just before free agency; in 2005, they did so with Brad Johnson, Joe Jurevicius, Ian Gold and Mario Edwards.